Sudden market correction a possibility, IMF warns
Lender says investors are overly dependent on accommodative monetary policies that could change
A “sense of complacency” is permeating markets as investors, betting on continued accommodative monetary policy, are stretching asset prices and risking a sudden market correction, the IMF warned on Wednesday.
The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has boosted expectations of a global recovery and helped prompt a surge in asset prices, despite rising infections and persistent uncertainty about the economic outlook, the world’s largest multilateral lender said in its Global Financial Stability Report.
Stretched asset valuations in some areas are largely contingent on government lifelines. Policymakers should be prepared for the risk of a market correction, which could worsen financial vulnerabilities that have so far remained at bay, such as rising corporate debt and weakness in nonbanking financial institutions, the IMF said.
Even so, policymakers should continue to provide support until a sustainable economic recovery takes hold, as vaccine underdelivery may jeopardise the global recovery, it said.
“We do certainly detect stretched valuations in some sectors and some asset classes — in credit, and some riskier segments of credit, in many bond markets and of course in equity markets — it is an environment that is stretched to some degree, but easy financial conditions are an intended outcome of the easing of monetary policy,” Tobias Adrian, director of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department, said in an interview.
The report also cautioned that uneven distribution of coronavirus vaccines could worsen global financial instability.
Advanced nations have prepurchased large quantities of vaccine while developing nations “lag significantly” in obtaining them, setting the stage for stronger economies to lift restrictions sooner than others.
If central banks in recovering Western economies start to normalise monetary policy, that could imperil capital flows in frontier and developing markets, and raise the cost of external financing, the IMF warned.
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