Emerging markets 250 2004: Banks make progress on a broad front
Despite pockets where problems persist, privatization, consolidation, and improved risk management and regulation are bringing widespread advances in emerging market banking systems.
By Wei Yen, Celina Vansetti-Hutchins,
CONSOLIDATION, ACQUISITION BY western financial institutions, stronger regulations and supervision, and increasing pressure for market discipline should in time steer many layers of emerging market banks towards lower risk, sustainable profits, and sounder management.
Latin America Chile and Mexico have on average the strongest banking systems, Brazil, Colombia and Peru are adequate; and Argentina, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela are poor to very poor.
The banking system that is improving fastest is Mexico's, where there is rapid convergence with the developed world. The recently announced agreement on the Fobaproa (bank fund for savings protection) issues lifts the uncertainty that was clouding the system, without impacts on banks' financial fundamentals.
Chile's relatively mature system is in the best shape. Its bank's good financial strength ratings are based on generally strong management of credit and market risks, and on ample liquidity and capital, as well as a drive for fee growth and operating efficiency.
In Brazil, structural vulnerabilities constrain ratings, despite strong banking franchises. Improving domestic financial architecture and signs of economic recovery should boost lending.