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IMF Says Post Crisis, Austrian Banks Focus on Local Deposits, Unlike Baltics

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- The global financial meltdown triggered by predatory lending is still the focus of many International Monetary Fund Article IV reviews, such as that of Austria released under embargo on September 15.

  The IMF says "the main impact of the crisis was on the
internationally active banking system and public debt. Before the crisis, Austrian banks had expanded rapidly in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE). As their funding dried up post-Lehman, and their assets suffered from the end of the credit boom in CESEE, Austrian banks came under pressure and needed government support."

  Beyond the bailouts, Austrian banks now rely more on local deposits for what lending they do. The IMF has yet to pursue this idea as is done in the US Community Reinvestment Act. As to Austria, the IMF says: "In most countries in CESEE, the decline in cross border funding has to a large extent been offset by an increase in domestic deposits and the level of credit has not declined. Notable exceptions include the Baltics, Hungary, and Slovenia."

  We'll have more on this.

  On September 11, two days after 124 nations in the UN General Assembly voted to start a process on sovereign debt restructuring, Inner City Press asked the International Monetary Fund, "What is the IMF's comment on the “sovereign debt restructuring” resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 9? The resolution cites the IMF's work on the issues, in 2003."

  At the IMF's embargoed briefing on September 11, IMF spokesperson William Murray provided a long answer, including that the IMF is working on a "market based" solution, particularly on debt contractual terms to prevent "hold out" problems. He mentioned, as he had to, Argentina, which has had it own contentious relation with the IMF.

  Clearly, Argentina -- and Bolivia as chair of the Group of 77 -- were aware of these IMF efforts when they pursued the issue in the UN General Assembly. We'll have more on this.

  In the last briefing, Inner City Press asked the IMF about ebola. This time, Murray cited the economies of Liberia and Sierra Leone shrinking 3 to 3.5%, and Guinea by 1.5%.

  On Portugal, he said the IMF has received no communication about an early pay-off.

  Inner City Press also asked the IMF for its view of Cyrus' foreclosure laws -- sounds like the IMF doesn't like them -- as well as Yemen and Egypt:

What is the IMF's view of the partial roll back by Yemen's government of its initial cut in fuel subsidies?

On Egypt, what is the status of the IMF's work with the country? What is the IMF's comment on Bank of America Merrill Lynch saying it expects no near-term IMF engagement with Egypt?

  We'll have more on this as well.

When Argentina's foreign minister Héctor Timerman held a press conference at the UN at 5:30 pm on September 9, he was flanked not only by Argentina's ambassador to the UN Maria Cristina Perceval but also the chair of the Group of 77, Sacha Llorenti of Bolivia.

  They spoke of 11 countries opposing their resolution on sovereign debt and vultures funds, or sovereign debt restructuring, including the United States. Timerman took the high road, saying that Argentina would present a project with the G77 and speak with all opponents.

  He asked how the UN General Assembly, which he called the most democratic forum, could be involved in so many fields but not this one. Why indeed.

   Back in June, Inner City Press thanked Timerman and his finance minister Axel Kicillof on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, then asked if Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital hold stakes in other G77 members, and if the case shows the need for reform, that countries should have at least the same debt restructuring rights as corporations.

  Kicillof added, states and the people (pueblos) they represented. He said that in the G77 meeting, Peru had spoken. An attentive Inner City Press reader chimed in with a question about Ecuador, which sold bonds just this week.

  But in that case, new language tried to avoid the Argentina decision of the US Supreme Court, just as Belize and Armenia have also done on their debt. Watch this site.


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