An interview with IMF boss Kristalina Georgiewa – economy


Cerstin Gammelin and Claus Hulverscheidt, Berlin

Kristalina Georgiewa is prepared for all the imponderables when she appears on the screen for a video conversation with SZ. When, after a few minutes of interview, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) comes up with the fact that people are inherently social beings, she spontaneously pulls a chic, black mask out of her blazer pocket and uses it to cover her nose and mouth: with a little Mindfulness, says the 67-year-old Bulgarian, personal contacts and prosperous economic development are still possible today. That fits in with the economist who, in her year in office, earned the reputation of a hands-on practitioner who doesn’t avoid the bush.


Passeig de Gràcia also suffers

“We are suffering, but less than other areas of the city.” This is the opinion of Lluís Sans, owner of the Santa Eulalia fashion company and president of the Passeig de Gràcia Association, an entity that groups the shops on this commercial axis in the center of Barcelona.

In recent months, five chains have closed or will close their establishments on Passeig de Gràcia, including brands such as Desigual, Lacoste, Lotusse, Camper and Oysho. In addition, Nespresso, which had a place where the old Boulevard Rosa used to be, moves to the neighboring Rambla de Catalunya, the parallel street but more facing a Barcelona public and with more local brands.

In fact, a few years ago some chains, such as the Catalan optician Cottet, already left the most touristy areas of the center -in that case the Portal de l’Àngel- to open new shops on the Rambla de Catalunya. The closures are also being noticed in the cross streets -those going in the direction of Llobregat-Besòs-, where you can see more shops with the shutter down.

“There has always been movement on Passeig de Gràcia, and perhaps there are more closures now,” said the president of the shopkeepers in the commercial area, although he did not think it would be a very large increase. “It’s a street with a very expensive square meter and it always has a certain rotation, because there are companies that try it and then the numbers don’t come out,” he adds. Therefore, the closure of shops is, he says, relative, as the planned openings have become a reality or will be made in the near future. Fashion and shoe brands such as Moncler, Balenciaga and Golden Goose have recently opened, as has the Audemars Piguet watchmaking.

Half a year of difficulties

With the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, trade found itself at the epicenter of restrictions, with special suffering during the hardest months of confinement, in March and April, when it had to close. When the stores reopened, it was with many capacity restrictions and having to make significant investments in additional security measures, such as screens or disinfectant gel.

In the case of shops in the center of the Catalan capital there is an added problem: restrictions on mobility ruined tourism. Precisely the Passeig de Gràcia, due to the fact that it is the great commercial axis of the city for prestige and location -crossing from top to bottom the Eixample just in the central part- is nourished by all possible types of customers in the city: visitors near Barcelona, ​​foreign tourists and the people of Barcelona themselves.

“We live off foreign visitors, but also from outside the city,” says Sans about the origin of buyers. In this sense, it is worth noting that Passeig de Gràcia, like other commercial areas in Barcelona, ​​receives customers who travel to buy in Barcelona from time to time from other parts of Catalonia, but also from nearby regions, such as Aragon, the Balearic Islands. or the south of France. “Barcelona is a capital, and many people have it as a reference” beyond Catalonia, adds Sans about the types of visitors that the symbolic route has.

The visits of Catalans and Spaniards froze with the declaration of the state of alarm, but with the demise of the summer they revived a little, despite still being below the levels before the pandemic. In contrast, in the case of foreign tourists, the collapse has been much more significant and continued, both EU and, above all, those outside the European Union – Asian, American and Russian.

The simple fact of having tourist attractions such as La Pedrera or La Mansana de la Discordia make Passeig de Gràcia a must-see place for both the tourist with less purchasing power and for those looking for the big brands that are concentrated in this street. .

Impact on the center

This decline in tourism has affected many other commercial areas in the center of Barcelona. The Rambla, the Portal de l’Àngel and the Gothic Quarter empty during the summer have been paradigmatic pictures of the pandemic, and traders and restaurateurs are suffering more than ever to survive. Also the Born, a neighborhood with a lot of small business focused almost exclusively on tourists, is having many more closures.

The almost desolate images of the Rambla are not seen on Passeig de Gràcia, which does not mean, as Sans indicates, that the emblematic road has not strongly noticed the current recession.


The Toledo Pact closes an agreement five years later

It has taken five years for the Toledo Pact commission to reach a new agreement. The table in charge of debating the recommendations on pensions has closed a final text with twenty proposals that will be presented publicly next Tuesday and voted by the political parties. These proposals must serve so that the Spanish government can reform and make sustainable the state pension system, a requirement that also marks Brussels.

“There are no revolutionary changes,” said sources familiar with the ARA negotiations, as reflected in the final draft, to which this newspaper has had access: the Toledo Pact “opposes any radical transformation of the system.” which means a rupture of the principles of the present “. However, it maintains the safeguard of the principles of solidarity and sufficiency.

The new text includes the proposal to link the annual revaluation of pensions to the CPI, a commitment that, in fact, was made by the Minister of Inclusion and Social Security, José Luis Escrivá. This recommendation would put an end to the great change that was introduced in 2013, with the reform of the Popular Party, when Spain became part of the few European countries that no longer had pensions indexed to the CPI. “We are satisfied with the agreement reached, as it clearly claims the support of the public system,” said sources from United We Can.

A hole in the Social Security box that translates into a deficit of up to 2% of GDP for this 2020 has put on the table the question of whether the Social Security and, consequently, the pension system are in ” crisis “. “The system is sustainable,” Escrivá argued a few days ago. “The issue is the use that has been made of it,” said sources familiar with the Pact.

With the numbers in the red, the sanitation of the Social Security box is one of the other consensual proposals that no one dares to question today, and which has the approval of organizations such as Airf. Finally, the pact has agreed on a period of three years (until 2023) so that some Social Security expenses, called improper, are assumed from the general budgets of the State. “There has been a looting,” the same sources report. They refer to the 103 billion euros that the Court of Auditors calculated as expenses improper, that is, non-contributory benefits that the state should have assumed. The department headed by Escrivá has acknowledged that at least 22.8 billion should be costs borne by the state.

Early retirements

With regard to the calculation of pensions, the Pact again assumes the 2011 reform in terms of the number of years needed to calculate the pension (25 years until 2022), although it is committed to allowing the pensioner to choose the best years to improve the final benefit.

The Pact also supports measures to make retirement effective at legal age and includes concerns about cuts to forced early retirement in cases of long contribution careers. In fact, the Toledo Pact calls on the Spanish government to assess which groups could benefit from exceptions. The final text will be voted on this Tuesday – still with the possibility of small last minute changes – and most parties, with the exception of Vox, are expected to support it, although some particular vote is also expected. on any of the recommendations.


The fear of the second lockdown

Red alert

The dangers of the pandemic are as real now as they were during the first wave in spring.

(Photo: Smetek)

  • The fast increasing numbers of infections leave no doubt: Germany is in the middle in the second corona wave. New Restrictions on public life are inevitable – yet they could hope for a quick one wipe out economic recovery.
  • who against individual rules rebelled, sees himself quickly near mask refusers and virus deniers moved. This requires a debate about the correct understanding of Liberalism in times of pandemic.
  • The German citizen are very satisfied with the performance of their country in the fight against corona. But in other states some even succeeded even better. Was Germany from Greece, China, Uruguay, Thailand and Japan can learn.
  • “With Empowering laws we should very much be careful“Says Oliver Reichert in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Of the Birkenstock boss talks about one possible second lockdown, the cons of the Home office culture and about why the crisis his own brand not harmed hat.

In the past few weeks, Karl-Heinz Paqué has stayed in two hotels that are at opposite ends of the price and prestige spectrum. In his Saarland hometown of St. Wendel, the chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation stayed at the “Auberge”, a small three-star hostel. A little later he was a guest for an event organized by his FDP-affiliated organization at the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof. In both houses, Paqué got the same impression: “The hotels practice corona protection both conscientiously and smoothly. You just wear a mask, keep your distance and the hotel bar closes completely or earlier. “

Paqué is all the more incomprehensible about the bans on accommodation that many federal states issued in October for holidaymakers from German corona risk areas. His impression: “This shows the fateful tendency of the state bureaucracy to keep any residual risk at bay with quickly issued prohibitions and to underestimate the freedom of those affected.”

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41,050 workers in one week

The closure of bars and restaurants decreed by the Government to combat the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has once again triggered temporary employment regulation (ERTO) files in Catalonia: in just one week they rise by 4,871 in the sector and affect a total of 41,054 workers.

According to the latest data from the Department of Labor of the Generalitat, from 16 to 22 October these 4,871 temporary files have been registered, 1,562 of which are of traditional force majeure and 3,231 of force majeure due to impediment, while in 78 cases ‘allege other causes. The growth curve of ERTOs, moreover, is on the rise and has gone from 1,556 in the first four days since the closure of bars and restaurants to 4,871 in seven days.

Prior to these last restrictions on economic activity, the number of people affected by an ERTO in Catalonia, as of September 30, was 146,559, according to Social Security data.

The restaurant sector has been able to take advantage of the ERTO rebates after lowering the shutter by decree because the Spanish government extended this tool until the end of January to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Of the new files that have been submitted for the closure of the restaurant sector, Barcelona is the province most affected, with a total of 3,835 ERTOs affecting 30,898 people. In the Girona region, 628 files have been submitted, with 3,603 workers affected; while in Tarragona 562 ERTOs have been presented, including 5,360 people. In the province of Lleida, with 266 files, there are 1,038 employees affected, while in Terres de l’Ebre 30 files have been submitted affecting 155 people.

Street protest

This Friday, half a hundred people have protested in Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona against the closure of bars and restaurants. The Interregional Federation of Hospitality Restaurants and Tourism (Fihrt), with the support of PimeComerç and the Barcelona Restaurant Guild, have called the protest.

The rally began shortly after noon when participants were distributed in the square, looking towards the Palau de la Generalitat, with posters and sounding whistles and pots, and ended around 13 hours. Most banners carried the message “Restoration is not the virus. We want to work, not close,” and some also mentioned nightlife.


What impact a possible devaluation would have on Argentine assets

The market is increasingly expectant about the possibility that the Government effect a devaluation and generate a discrete jump in the official exchange rate, despite the fact that the Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, affirmed today that “there will be no devaluation”, and assured that “the depreciation of the peso will continue the dollar for inflation.

The gap greater than 140% provokes a greater expectation that this will actually happen and it is expected that financial assets will react accordingly.

The reaction to the different assets before a devaluation It could be different, although investors are mostly expectant to find some signal from the economic side, be it an economic plan, with fiscal and monetary consistency so that the dynamics of the assets improve.

On the basis of prices, a devaluation could benefit CER-adjusted bonds and export stocks in the medium term. They hope we see a jump in dollar linked bonds immediately, although the dynamics of these bonds are at risk in the sessions after the official dollar jump.

Look also

Gustavo Neffa, partner and director of Research for Traders, analyzes in the weekly report produced by the Chamber of Stock Brokers, the tensions generated by the exchange rate in the local market.

In the event that the BCRA decides to devalue together with an economic plan, bonds that adjust for CER could be favored, as well as shares that are linked to foreign trade.

For José Ignacio Bano, Invertironline Research Manager (IOL) a devaluation could be beneficial for dollar linked bonds and shares of exporting companies while it could be negative in the short term for CER bonds.

The impact on dollar linked bonds will increase as the devaluation . Regarding the future of hard dollar bonds, they move based on the cash with settlement, so I do not imagine that they will fall, although there is a scenario in which a devaluation can decompress the need for individuals to buy the MEP and CCL dollars. and it could generate a clipping. For its part, in the short term a CER bond will be negative because it ends up impacting the devaluation because the peso will be worth less but with the jump in the exchange rate higher inflation is to be expected and therefore the CER bond ends up being more attractive. Finally, in terms of shares, companies linked to foreign trade such as Aluar, will be companies in which a devaluation will benefit them ”, he estimated.

With a similar vision, Franscico Mattig, Fixed Income Strategist at Consultatio He warned that after a discrete devaluation of the official exchange rate “the bond market in pesos begins to discount a much lower or even negative real rate, probably in view of the expectation of an acceleration of inflation given the pass-through.”

“Taking into account that we are very far from exchange unification, an official devaluation would reduce the gap, but it would not eliminate it, we understand that an official devaluation could fuel a new compression in CER bond yields. The less confidence inspires the macro program in which the hypothetical correction of the exchange rate, the greater demand for coverage will have the CER curve”, He added.

Future of dollar linked

Today the dollar linked bond not only does not accrue a rate but also has a negative rate due to the search for devaluation coverage. For this reason, in the event of a possible devaluation, the dollar linked would probably rise, although immediately the attractiveness of being positioned in these bonds falls due to the fact that it does not accrue a rate.

In this way, lInvestors probably want to dispose of the asset since its function of protecting themselves against a devaluation has already been fulfilled and the price of the bond could begin to fall, eroding part of the coverage sought with said instrument. Because, In the short term, it is expected that the linked dollar will rise, although perhaps in the medium term a correction may be seen after the rise in the official dollar.

The Consultatio strategist highlighted that a discreet devaluation directly benefits dollar linked bonds and exchange rate futures: “A devaluation benefits them either because the adjustment of their capital hits a jump, in the case of bonds, or because the underlying asset does, in the case of futures. “

“In the case of dollar bonds linked, what is observed from past episodes is that, after the exchange event, the market goes out to sell the instruments and then the yield goes from very negative values ​​to positive values, generating a capital loss that compensates the benefit of the devaluation”, He remarked.

Future of stocks

Regarding the dynamics of the Actions, according to operators, these are likely to suffer as a devaluation tends to deteriorate short-term financial conditions and in order for us to see improvements in equities, it will be necessary to see that the economy is going to improve and this will require an economic plan.

The analysts of Portfolio Personal Inversiones (PPI) remarked that the market movements are once again taking greater strength and concern investors and for a change in trend in the medium and long term in stocks, concrete actions should be seen in economic matters.

The measures should be aimed at seeking to resolve the fiscal deficit, generating a regulatory and tax framework that benefits companies and encouraging investment. The signals go in the opposite direction, and the market responds like this”, They warned

Juan Guma, Balanz portfolio manager insisted that the most favored stocks in the face of a devaluation are going to be companies with a significant percentage of income linked to the dollar.

“AThere are three options: on the one hand, export companies such as San Miguel and Aluar; BYMA, which has an almost fully dollarized investment portfolio; and Ternium, which has a very attractive cushion with holdings in Ternium México and Usiminas in Brazil. On the other hand, the CEDEARS are in a very good relative position, since their return has a correlation with the exchange rate (since the underlying is a stock listed in the United States, typically, the return of the CEDEAR is the variation of the share in dollars and the variation of the exchange rate) ”, he said.

Anticipating this dynamic, Guma explained that the portfolio managed by the Balanz Actions fund “we are giving greater weight to these companies, also incorporating positions in Globant and Mercado Libre, which are Argentine companies with a very strong presence abroad and do not have as much correlation with the local negative cycle “, he claimed.

Latest exchange rate measures, without a plan

In the market it is discounted that the BCRA will devalue the peso, despite the continuous official denials. The 140% exchange rate gap makes it practically unsustainable as it slows down the level of activity and creates disincentives for different sectors of the economy, slowing down economic recovery. Therefore, it is expected that the Central Bank decides to apply a correction to the exchange rate, although they warn for it to be effective, it will be important that said devaluation is accompanied by an economic plan.

A jump in the exchange rate without a consistent economic plan is unlikely to improve economic expectations or financial assets. In fact, analysts warn that without an economic plan, the dynamics of financial variables could worsen, which could also hurt financial assets.

The Ministry of Economy announced new measures aimed at calming exchange and financial pressures but they were not enough.

The Grupo SBS analysts They affirmed that “to stabilize the economy an economic program will be needed that reduces the need for financing with issuance, allowing to decompress expectations that are no longer guided by the anchor of the wholesale exchange rate.”

“Without access to market financing, this will require a more ambitious fiscal consolidation than that proposed in the Budget 20201 and negotiations with the IMF appear as an ideal opportunity to propose new objectives ”, they aimed.

Francisco Mattig, Fixed Income Strategist at Consultatio He explained that in terms of the macro and market consequences, not all devaluations are the same.

“Broadly speaking, there are two ways to devalue the exchange rate. A it is confidently, in a controlled manner, with a consistent and credible macro program that goes beyond exchange rate policy. The other is a devaluation without confidence, that is, unplanned, forced by the market, and that is not accompanied by a series of measures that seek to contain the associated negative effects and maintain the positive ones, “he said.

He argued that for Argentina “to do so with confidence would require having an agreed program with the IMF that imposes certain features of macro rationality from the fiscal and monetary point of view.”


Cellnex lands in Poland with an investment of € 800 million to buy Play

The Catalan telecommunications infrastructure company Cellnex announced this Friday its entry into the Polish market with the purchase of 60% of the Play company, with a planned investment of 800 million euros, according to the National Commission for Stock Market (CNMV).

French telecommunications service provider Iliad reached an agreement with Play shareholders last September 21 to buy the Polish company. Now Cellnex has closed a deal with Iliad that will buy 60% of Play, and therefore have control, while Iliad will keep 40%.

In this way, Cellnex will control the Polish company. The operation is expected to be closed during the second quarter of 2021. With this operation, the Catalan company will operate 7,000 telecommunications antennas in a country where it was not yet present.

Cellnex will finance the acquisition, of 800 million euros, with its own fund. The operation is similar to the one Cellnex did in France with Free, also a subsidiary of Iliad.

The company that loses but never stops winning

The company that loses but never stops winning

The newly created Polish company plans to invest up to 1.3 billion euros over the next 10 years to deploy up to 5,000 new telecommunications sites.

With this acquisition Cellnex extends its presence in Europe. The telecommunications infrastructure company currently operates networks in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and from next year in Poland.

Based on acquisitions, the company, which in 2014 operated 7,000 locations in Spain, expects to reach 73,000 in nine countries with this acquisition. The new acquisition will provide an additional EBITDA – operating profit before taxes and amortization – of 220 million euros and a cash flow of 160 million.

Future sales

The agreement provides that Cellnex will provide services to Play for 20 years, extendable to another 10 years, an increase of 6 billion in future sales. Thus, the company already has future sales contracted worth 53 billion.

Cellnex CEO Tobías Martínez stressed that the operation will allow the company to land in a growing EU market and make Cellnex become “a benchmark player in the telecommunications sector in Poland”. Franco Bernabé, president of the company, stressed that with the Cellnex operation it is strengthened as a reference partner for European operators for the deployment of 4G networks and to accelerate the implementation of 5G.


The IMF will give support if Guzmán’s plan leads to economic stability

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued two harsh warnings towards Argentina. On the one hand, that the Government will have “additional measures” to stabilize the macroeconomic context. On the other hand, that its GDP will fall this year -as it had already foreseen- although up to 11.8%, which marks a much more serious situation than the 5.7% that had been anticipated in April and 9.9 % of June.

They also maintained the projections for 2021 at 4.9% and the regional ones worsened, which from the 4.4% projected in April, went to 3.9% in June and now fell to 3.6%.

This was stated by the director for the Western Hemisphere, Alejandro Werner, who argued that “Now the government is in the process of announcing additional medium-term measures that are congruent and consistent with macroeconomic stability and inclusive growth. “

However, the manager specified that this program“It has to achieve an appropriate balance between taking care of the social situation and economic growth” to be approved by the international body.

“To the extent that a common vision is reached, if it is conducive to macro stability and sustained growth, it will be supported by a financial program from the Fund,” he said when presenting the work Economic Outlook for the Americas.

The disbursement of money that the program implies has already been required by the Government to cover the maturities it has with the Fund, and the first will be in September 2021. Meanwhile, the mission is expected to return to the country in mid-November.

On the other hand, the executive stated that “the restructuring of private debt is an important milestone that gives future viability to public finances” and celebrated that the Government is looking “a broad consensus” for the economic program, in addition to technical feasibility.

The work also highlights that the greater duration and depth of the pandemic will not economically affect all countries equally. In this sense, he says that growth prospects are better for Mexico and Brazil, for example, than for Argentina.

The IMF blamed “uncertainty about domestic policies” for the drop in Argentine bonds. There, he argues that although “bond prices recovered at the conclusion of the debt renegotiation processes, they recently declined, partly reflecting uncertainty about domestic policies.”

However, he considered that Argentina and Ecuador “undertook a successful restructuring of their sovereign debt in 2020, amid growing concerns about debt sustainability and financial pressures.”

The agency also stressed that debt restructurings will ease payments during the next decade in u $ s 33,300 million in the case of Argentina.

And it foresees that they reduce the public debt / GDP ratio to 40% in the country. In addition, it indicates that it will not update the projections for Argentina for now because “to a large extent they are linked to the negotiations still in progress on the program.”

Werner pointed out that for the region “a real GDP contraction of 8.1% is projected in 2020, and growth of 3.6% in 2021” and warned that “in most countries the GDP will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, due to the long-lasting economic consequences of the crisis. “

In the regional report, the Fund also indicated that the risks of the outlook continue to be skewed to the downside, with a notorious uncertainty related to the health emergency in the world.


Service Point links the purchase of Scytl and will guarantee jobs

The Irish group Paragon has finally announced the purchase of the Catalan electronic voting company Scytl. He did so on Thursday through a relevant fact to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) of its other investee in the state, the reprographic company Service Point. With this operation, Paragon guarantees the immediate future of Scytl and saves the nearly 140 workers from the creditors’ competition that was launched in December last year.

As reported by ARA, in late September the main creditors of the technology gave the green light to the multinational’s offer to acquire Scytl, and after closing the fringes with some of the banks the operation has gone ahead. The purchase also includes the Civiti citizen consultation platform (initially a joint project with Telefónica) and the Barcelona company’s subsidiaries in the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.

In addition, with the integration Scytl will change its name to Scytl Election Technologies. The company was dragging a debt of about 75 million with the banks, which have finally accepted Paragon’s € 3 million offer in exchange for the production unit and software licenses. “The acquisition of Scytl is the first step in our strategy to develop Service Point Solutions as a European leader in the business of digital transformation and technology,” said Service Point President and Chief Financial Officer Paragon Laurent Salmon .

New stage without debt

When it went into pre-bankruptcy, Scytl was in a very complicated financial situation after dragging losses and stagnating in revenue growth due to bad experiences in developing countries.

Thus, with the purchase by Paragon, the electronic voting platform will be able to exploit the rise of this electoral system at a time when the pandemic will also force a rethink of the elections. In addition, in recent years Scytl had pushed for a business division aimed at elections for private clients beyond governments, such as unions, universities or professional colleges, which Service Point could relaunch.


Bank defaults grow for the second month in a row in August

Defaults on loans granted by banks, savings banks and cooperatives to individuals and companies rose in August to 4.74%. Thus, financial institutions are already chaining two consecutive months of growth in the default rate, after the increase also recorded in July (4.71%) compared to June, according to extract of data published this Thursday by the Bank of Spain.

From April to July, the default ratio of financial institutions was contained and did not increase. This downward streak was the result of the deployment of public aid programs (such as guarantees or moratoriums for the self-employed and companies) to deal with the impact of the coronavirus crisis, as recognized by the Bank of Spain. Both the body and experts have predicted that the end of some of these measures would result in a significant increase in arrears by 2021.

The Bank of Spain warns that “the economic crisis cannot become a financial crisis”

Doubtful loans have also increased, reaching 57.9 billion euros, 50 million more than in July. However, the figure is 7.54% lower than the volume of doubtful loans in August a year ago. However, the slight increase in the default rate is also explained by the fall, as it did in July, in the total volume of credit granted by the sector, by 0.36%, to 1.221 trillion euros. ‘euros, while at the beginning of the year it grew.

Provisions by financial institutions in August reached 36,046 million euros, 133 million more than in July. With this increase in provisions, the entities seek to heal themselves precisely because of the sector’s concern to deal with the deterioration, and in the face of a future increase in the delinquency rate.

The delinquency of banks skyrocketed with the financial crisis and exceeded 5% in November 2009. In 2013 the historical record of 13.61% was reached, and from that moment it doubled the curve and went undertake the decline to the current 4.8%. Although the message hovering over the financial sector is that this time it is facing the economic recession with much more solvency, in recent weeks warning signs have been reactivated. The Bank of Spain calls for “caution” and to maintain “stimuli”, while the IMF warns that the sector will have to be monitored “closely”.