Depending on the starting point, it has been about five years since the real crux of the global financial meltdown began. A flurry of hearings, regulations, protests, and other less beneficial activities have followed. Recently, the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, published a study on the health of the global financial system.
Created in 1945 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IMF's objectives include promoting international trade, exchange rate stability and helping member countries meet balance of payments needs. The IMF also works to secure financial stability and sustain economic growth. There are currently 188 member countries in the organization. Christine Lagarde is the current Managing Director of the IMF.
In summary, the recent IMF study states the reforms and regulations exacted since the beginning of the financial crisis have not really created a safer financial system. Many perplexing issues remain.
There are some very positive developments, according to the IMF report. Certain capital and liquidity requirements are being enacted to strengthen the financial health of the banking sector. At the same time, increased transparency is being imposed on the financial derivatives markets. This transparency is designed to improve pricing of these financial instruments and decrease some of the counter party risk financial institutions have with one another as they participate in these markets.
While some reforms have been enacted, significant short comings remain. The IMF report states progress has been made in figuring out how to disentangle large financial institutions when one of them gets into trouble, but there is still more work needed. When these opposing financial institutions are headquartered in different countries, sorting out problems can be very cumbersome.
Another ongoing area of concern described in the IMF report is the existence of the "shadow banking" sector and how these nonbank financial entities are regulated. Due to their size, complexity and interaction with the banking sector, difficulties in the shadow banking sector can too easily spill over into the banking sector and create systemic risk concerns.
There is still more to do, suggests the IMF report. Regulations enacted thus far are aiming in the right direction, but the global financial system remains vulnerable.
Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group in Salt Lake City.