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Ensuring financial stability and efficiency
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Loan creation has not recovered after the crisis owing to a combination of demand and supply factors. Although the banking sector is sufficiently capitalised in the short term, banks are deleveraging by cutting down their dependence on cross-border financing. The ability of the financial sector to supply credit has been further stifled by a high financial levy, a de facto ban on foreign currency lending for mortgages, future uncertainties about parent banks’ funding and undermined creditors’ rights. Up to recently, new measures to restructure household loans did not help borrowers with real repayment difficulties while weakening banks’ solvency. The mid-December 2011 agreement between the government and the banking sector was a welcome step towards fair burden sharing. Bank recapitalisation, if necessary, should be done by raising the level of capital so as not to downsize loan portfolios. In the long term, the demand for credit is hampered by large price-cost margins, which call for stiffer competition. The development of the financial markets has also been adversely affected by the de facto nationalisation of mandatory pension funds, which played a crucial role in the accumulation of long-term savings. The regulation of mandatory and voluntary pension funds requires harmonisation and transparency to increase their cost-efficiency. An effective co-operation between micro and macro-prudential regulation should be ensured in practice and the financial independence of the financial supervisor strengthened. Co-operation between host and home regulatory authorities should be enhanced in a manner that accounts for systemic risks in Hungary. Finally, an effective independence of the central bank has to be guaranteed.
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