Concerns over world markets risks
Concerns over world markets risks

Risks to the world's financial system are growing and confidence in it is falling, a disturbing report from the International Monetary Fund has found.

In its latest examination of the global financial network, the fund said its April report of the world's markets had been volatile, "gyrating between extremes of disappointment and optimism".

It said a fall in the confidence that politicians would deal with emerging issues was adding to wider concerns about the state of the economy.

Together that meant the financial system, which froze in late 2008 and early 2009, was heading back towards trouble.

"Despite significant and continuing efforts by European policymakers, which have been essential in addressing investors' biggest fears, the principal risk remains the euro area crisis," it said.

"Incremental policymaking has been insufficient to fully allay market tensions, despite the recent market rally since end-July.

"Imbalances in the United States and Japan are amenable to medium-term adjustment, but clarification now of necessary policy actions to be taken over the medium term would sustain confidence and pre-empt potential future market pressures."

The fund, which earlier this week put the chances of a global recession at one in six, said even emerging economies - which did best through the Global Financial Crisis - would face "spillover" problems.

The size of the financial risks was evident in IMF figures on government debt levels.

General government net debt in Japan is now 135 per cent of GDP while it is above 100 per cent in Italy, Ireland and Portugal. It is at 84 per cent in the United States and Britain.

Australia net debt is expected to peak at 12 per cent of GDP.

It also has one of the lowest levels of exposure to bank debts and demand on external creditors.

The fund said even investors were showing signs of panic even if there was no outwardly evidence of trouble.

"Investors are increasingly buying protection against extreme risks, even if investing in the instruments designed to provide the protection can be costly and may prove ineffective," it said.

The West Australian

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