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Emerging markets get credit for expanding banking: BIS
June, 11th 2008

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) on Monday said that new credit to Asian, African and Middle Eastern emerging markets expanded the international banking market in the fourth quarter of 2007 despite tensions in the inter-bank market.

This offset the impact of the financial turmoil in mature markets. The report said that credit to borrowers in the Asia-Pacific region grew $ 82 billion a quarterly record. Further, the borrowing was also met by a massive increase in deposits by residents in the region.

Activity in the international banking market continued to expand in the fourth quarter of 2007, despite the ongoing tensions in the interbank market. A significant portion of this increase was accounted for by new credit to emerging markets, said a new report by the bank said.

BIS is an organisation has 55 central banks as it members. It acts as a bank for central banks. It focuses on the conduct of monetary policy, the surveillance of international financial markets and central bank governance issues among others.

Inter-bank borrowing in mature markets, particularly the United States, took a hit since banks became distrustful and cautious about lending to each other amidst the subprime crisis. Both the US Fed and European central banks stepped into infuse liquidity into the system to address the crises.

Although markets subsequently rebounded in the wake of repeated central bank action and the Federal Reserve-facilitated take-over of a large US investment bank, interbank money markets failed to recover, as liquidity demand remained elevated, BIS has said.

In a marked shift from the late 90s, Asian banks are enjoy comfortable liquidity in the international interbank market, according to the analysis of BIS banking and national data, by Robert McCauley of the BIS and Jens Zukunft. During the Asian financial crisis these banks were vulnerable to changes in the risk perceptions of global bankers because they had borrowed dollars at short term to finance long-term projects in local currency.

Authors of the report conclude that foreign banks offshore funding of local currency assets may in places have created a new vulnerability of local markets and banks to global bank liquidity crunches. There was a tightening in the dollar market, dollars became more expensive, a banker with a foreign bank said.

Only big global banks raise money offshore and on-lend in local currency, he indicated.

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