OECD Journal: Financial Market Trends

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The articles in Financial Market Trends focus on trends, structural issues and developments in financial markets and the financial sector.


Sovereign Debt Challenges for Banking Systems and Bond Markets

Discussions at the October 2010 OECD Financial Roundtable conveyed a rather sombre view regarding the current outlook and risks, heightened by financial sector weaknesses, ongoing deleveraging and sovereign debt. Policy makers should be prepared for downside risks to materialise along the way to recovery. Low interest rates and low returns pose specific challenges for institutional investors. While sovereign risk is currently a major concern, its measurement is rather complex and markets do not always provide proper guidance. Sovereign ratings can serve as a useful point of reference but should be made more forward-looking and less procyclical. Should default or debt restructuring become necessary, strong political backing can minimise its costs. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) was seen as helpful in providing a backstop. Some optimism was expressed as to the current fiscal adjustments underway to bring public finances back onto a sustainable path. Banking sectors remain fragile, especially in Europe, where, however, the transparency provided by recent stress tests has calmed some fears. Reactivating the wholesale markets for bank funding will be essential going forward. Capitalisation of the US banking sector has improved, but pockets of risk remain in exposures to commercial property by regional and small banks. Contingent convertible (bail-in) bonds could become a useful instrument for sharing the costs of crises, but they need to be made attractive for investors. JEL Classification: G01, G12, G15, G18, G21, G32, H06, H60, H62, H63, H68 Keywords: financial crisis, sovereign risks, public deficits and debt, bond markets, banks


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