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The analysis in this book reflects various aspects of financial sector transformation in selected Central European countries that are expected to join the EU in 2004. The authors are Central European financial experts who provide, among other things, a detailed overview of the following main topics: Banking Regulation and Supervision; Concentration and Efficiency of the Banking Sectors; Financial (banking) crises in selected Central European countries; and Monetary and Exchange Rate Development. The results of the research done by these authors reflect an interesting fact: that there exist important differences in the financial sector development even in the relatively homogeneous group of selected Central European countries, namely the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.



1. The Financial and Banking Sectors in Transition Countries

Ideas and scenarios for economic reforms led to the transformation of a centrally planned economy into a market economy in Central European countries (CEC). Privatization, liberalization of prices, liberalization of foreign trade, and liberalization of capital movement were among the main pillars of transformation. The fulfilment of the transformation task was impossible without substantial changes in the banking sector. This chapter gives a brief overview of the development of the financial and banking sectors in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland. In the first part, the key features of the financial sectors in these transition countries are identified. Then, by applying indicators of capital market and bank development, a comparison of the financial sector’s structure will be made. The third part will deal with the restructuring of the banking sector in transition economies.
Lumír Kulhánek, Stanislav Polouček, Daniel Stavárek

2. The Czech Banking System in the 1990s: Regulation and Supervision

The fundamental changes of the banking sector reform that involved breaking up the monobank system into a two-tier banking system occurred in an institutional and legislative environment tailored to the prevailing economy. There was not only an underdeveloped institutional framework, but also a legislative framework covering bankruptcy law, corporate law, laws protecting creditors as well as debtors, accounting standards, reliable auditor firms and so on. Therefore, it was subsequently recognized that the resolution in the first stage of transition was insufficient, and repeated rescue operations were needed.
Roman Matoušek

3. Concentration of Banking Sectors

After the Second World War, with the increase in government intervention, and therefore the restricted role of market forces in the restoration of equilibrium, much greater attention was given to problems of market structure, concentration and competition. Concentration is a vital factor because it is closely connected with market equilibrium; it also directly affects companies’ efficiency and their position in the market.
Stanislav Polouček

4. Efficiency and Profitability in the Banking Sector

Efficiency and profitability of banks and other financial institutions are very frequently discussed topics in economic literature. Harker and Zenios (2000) give a comprehensive and excellent analysis of the performance of financial institutions. Berger and Humphrey (1997) likewise surveyed 130 studies that apply frontier efficiency analysis to financial institutions in 21 countries. They report that the majority of these studies are confined to the US banking sector, and draw attention to the need for further research in this area outside the USA. This chapter aims to do precisely that.
Daniel Stavárek, Stanislav Polouček

5. Costs of Macroeconomic Instability in Accession Countries

The aim of this chapter is to show the impact of macroeconomic and financial instabilities on the CEC in the last ten years whereby financial crises and swings in macroeconomic conditions were among the most important driving forces of changes in reform strategies. This chapter proceeds as follows. The first section will show some of the main revisions of the transition process. The next section will provide some generalizations and facts concerning the activities of the fundamental indicators among selected countries that are crucial for financial instability. Section 5.3 will analyse the effect of currency crises on investment and economic performance for CEC, as well as other selected ACC. And finally, the chapter will conclude with a summary of our findings as well as some issues to consider for future research.
Jan Frait, Luboš Komárek, Martin Melecký

6. Exchange Rate and Monetary Developments in Accession Countries

In the last two years there has been an unprecedented surge in discussions on the readiness and willingness of EU accession countries (ACC) to join EMU and introduce the euro. In 2002 most national central banks published their strategies towards the euro. They opted for rather early adoption of the euro after their countries became EU members. However, professionals in the field of economics have not reached consensus. There are also voices warning against the so-called fast-track approach. The focus of this chapter is primarily the validity of the arguments for and against early introduction of the euro in the ACC. After introducing a brief overview of discussions on the euro in Section 6.1, we will then define and compare various measures of nominal and real convergence (Section 6.2). Section 6.3 describes in detail the exchange rate developments in selected ACC with emphasis on real exchange rate trends. Section 6.4 will highlight some issues of inflation dynamics, convergence in price levels and implied challenges for monetary policy. Exchange rate regimes in the pre-accession period, the length of the period itself, as well as the relevance of the OCA theory will be discussed in Section 6.5. An overview of exchange rate strategies before the introduction of the euro will be presented in Section 6.6.
Jan Frait, Luboš Komárek


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