Drawing on its extensive experience in helping restructure and reform financial systems, the World Bank examines the state of African domestic financial systems in a global comparison. It identifies promising trends as well as pinpointing the major shortcomings that are observed across sub-Saharan Africa. Policy recommendations distinguish between those designed to make finance a more effective driver of economic growth and those designed to give low income, small-scale and other excluded groups better access to financial services.
In post-independence sub-Saharan Africa, institutional arrangements for monetary policy have taken a variety of forms, although the historical evolution of many African financial systems has been similar. This paper identifies five different regimes and examines how they evolved over time. It focuses on how the alternative institutional arrangements have influenced the performance of monetary policy under fiscal pressure, and concludes that, although the trend appears to be toward more flexible regimes, the transition to greater flexibility can exacerbate problems of credibility and of macroeconomic management.
An apparent temporary narrowing of income inequality has been observed during several recent banking crises. But it would be a mistake to conclude that such crises don't matter for the poor. For one thing, the correlation is not strong, and the opposite pattern has also been present. Besides, the poor are much less able to absorb a cut in income: safety-net policies are crucial during a downturn even if the gap between rich and poor has temporarily narrowed. More fundamentally, distributional shifts during the crisis may be less important than the fact that underlying financial policy and infrastructures conducive to crisis can also be associated with more unequal societies.
After a banking crisis, when authorities have decided to use budgetary funds to help restructure a large failed bank or banking system, apparent conflicts between various goals (involving incentives for the new bank management, for the government's budget, and for monetary stability) can be resolved by suitably designing financial instruments and appropriately allocating responsibility between different arms of government.
This publication contains new empirical evidence on how financial sector policy can help in promoting pro-poor development and tackling poverty. It argues that microfinance and mainstream finance schemes should be regarded as complementary and overlapping rather than as competing alternatives, with the essential similarities between the two becoming more evident as individual microfinance firms, or associations of firms, grow to the scale needed for sustainability.