Credit boom is risky: BIS

Credit boom is risky: BIS

Loose global monetary conditions are stoking credit and asset price booms in some emerging markets that could lead to a new financial crisis, the Bank for International Settlements, or BIS, warned on Sunday.

By (Reuters)

Published: Mon 25 Jun 2012, 11:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:24 PM

Such a boom-and-bust cycle might have severe global repercussions, not least due to the increased weight of emerging markets in the world economy and in investment portfolios, the BIS said in its annual report.

It urged central banks to pay more attention to the global spillovers from their domestic policies, an echo of complaints from Brazil and others that the ultra-loose monetary stance in older economies has touched off large, destabilising flows of capital into emerging markets in search of higher yields.

“This creates risks of rising financial imbalances similar to those seen in advanced economies in the years immediately preceding the crisis,” the BIS said.

Credit growth that is well above its long-term trend in relation to economic growth opens up a gap that has often presaged serious financial distress when it has exceeded six per cent in the past, the report said. Thailand and Turkey have credit gaps of 15 per cent or more, while Brazil and Indonesia are also in the danger zone above six per cent, according to the BIS.

Real credit growth in Argentina and China has also far outpaced gross domestic product growth, but their credit gaps are well below the six per cent threshold.

Asset prices also look increasingly frothy in many emerging economies, the BIS said. In some local Brazilian markets, real estate prices have almost doubled since the subprime crisis. Prices in some Chinese cities have risen even faster.

High debt loads could be a problem, too. The fraction of GDP that households and firms in Brazil, China, India and Turkey are allocating to debt service stands at its highest level since the late 1990s, or close to it, even though interest rates are low. The BIS acknowledged that emerging market central banks are nursing a policy headache: raising interest rates may attract even more capital inflows and thus fuel domestic credit growth.

As a result, it said, monetary policy in emerging markets may be systematically too loose.

“One way out is to accompany higher interest rates with macroprudential measures such as higher capital ratios or tighter loan-to-value ratios. And, even if these tools fail to slow credit growth significantly, they should at least reinforce the financial system against the consequences of a credit bust.”

The BIS also urged emerging markets to wean themselves off exports because prospects for the world economy are poor: only two out of 28 representative economies can expect their trading partners to grow faster in 2011-15 than in 2003-07. —

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