Data Sources for Financial Sector Assessments
Data sources for financial sector assessments can be broadly divided into national sources and commercial databases. National sources use supervisory and national accounts data, whereas commercial databases rely primarily on published financial statements. Data from national sources are usually made available through the bank supervisors’ Web sites and publications, as well as through databases of international organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Asia Regional Information Center (ARIC).
Data from national sources are usually aggregated for the entire banking system, although some supervisors also publish bank-level data. The databases usually include indicators of financial stability such as bank capital adequacy, asset quality, profitability, and liquidity, as well as indicators of financial system structure and development such as total financial assets and ratios of monetary aggregates to the gross domestic product (GDP). The main advantage of data obtained from national sources is that they cover the banking system in its entirety and often have higher frequency and better timeliness than commercial data providers. However, financial sector authorities in many countries do not disclose all available data to the public, especially when the data relate to financial sector soundness and stability. In addition, national supervisory data are not standardized across countries, and the data come in different formats and definitions. The OECD publishes standardized databases with annual bank, insurance, and institutional investors’ soundness indicators and financial system structure data for 31 countries compiled from national sources, but data standardization requirements lead to delays in the processing and publishing of the data.
Commercial databases providing bank-level indicators draw mainly on published bank financial reports. Databases such as Bankscope and Thomson One Banker contain a large number of nonaggregated annual financial statements. Bankscope transforms the original data reported by the banking institutions into a standardized format that is used for the computation of bank-level soundness indicators. The database has the capacity to aggregate those indicators on a country basis. However, the availability of the underlying data for computing indicators and the coverage of the banking systems may vary by country and, if inadequate, may produce misleading results. In addition, the public reporting definitions of some of the indicators may differ from the definitions used by bank supervisors.
The Banker’s Almanac database has a comprehensive coverage of the financial systems, including both banks and nonbank financial companies, but the number of published indicators is limited. Corporate-level soundness and development indicators for publicly traded companies not limited to banks, but including also nonbank financial and nonfinancial corporations, are available from Thomson One Banker, which also publishes company stock performance data. Other commercial databases, such as CEIC Asia and Haver Analytics, which specialize in economic statistics, tap into national sources and provide more timely and higher frequency aggregate-level bank indicators for some countries as well as country-level, market-based indicators, such as stock exchange capitalization, turnover, number of listed companies, and stock market indices. CEIC Asia provides some data on real estate prices. Information on bonds, equities, commodities, and derivative instruments (e. g., options, futures, swaps)—including prices, yields, spreads, market indices, and the like—are available from commercial data providers such as Bloomberg, Datastream, and Global Insight. In addition, Bloomberg provides some company-level financial statements and performance information for developed countries and for some emerging market countries. Thomson One Banker’s company data are retrievable through Datastream.
The rating agencies that publish financial information on rated banks on their Web sites are another source of bank-level indicators. Moody’s Investor Services compiles banking system statistical supplements for developed and emerging market countries. Fitch Research publishes special country reports on major banks’ performance, banking system structure, and prudential regulations, which contain selected soundness indicators. Both Moody’s and Fitch Research focus their attention on the larger banks in a country, and their coverage of the banking systems is not comprehensive. The indicators are more often not aggregated and may have a lag from 6 months to 1 year, depending on when the reports were issued. Along with the financial information, Moody’s publishes the financial strength ratings of individual banks and aggregates the information into an overall banking system financial strength rating. Fitch rates individual banks in terms of potential support the banks may get in a crisis situation.
Additional details on those data sources are presented in the following sections.
National bank supervisors publish on their Web sites some of the financial soundness indicators (FSIs) that they collect, either in the statistics section or as part of their bank
supervision publications. Availability varies by country, and for some countries, disclosure is limited to monetary balance sheet data. Published supervisory data are updated more frequently than commercial sources—often quarterly—and cover the banking sector in its entirety. In some countries with large banking sectors, there is still a lag in the collection, aggregation, and reporting of the indicators. In countries where the bank supervisor is not the central bank but another stand-alone agency (e. g., many countries in Latin America where the bank supervisor is usually the banking commission), the Web sites contain more comprehensive banking sector data. In some cases, only the underlying data used for the FSIs computation are published and are in a raw data format.
Some of the countries publishing FSIs on their Web sites are as follows:
• Europe: Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg
• Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
• Emerging Europe: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine
• Asia: Bangladesh, India, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand
• Middle East: the Arab Republic of Egypt
• Africa: Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe
• Other: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States