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US offers condolences amid deadly Barcelona terror attack

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first_imgMichelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 17, 2017Flags have been lowered to half-staff at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., in memory of the victims. The athletic department at Clemson University in South Carolina wrote on Twitter that its men’s basketball program is in Barcelona, but the entire travel party is “safe and secure” and is expected to return to Clemson on Friday.“Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona and those injured at this time,” the Clemson athletic department added.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Josep Lago(WASHINGTON) — As an attack in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday killed at least one person and left at least 32 injured, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered condolences for the “loss of life and injuries” of “so many innocent people, yet again.”In the incident local police called a “terror attack,” a van slammed into pedestrians near Catalunya Square in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, a busy tourist area. An eyewitness told a Spanish television station that the suspect ran over people in his van for nearly 1,000 feet before fleeing into a nearby Turkish restaurant.Two people have been detained, police saidTillerson said this incident has “the hallmarks, it appears, of yet another terrorist attack.”ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack.To terrorists around the world, Tillerson said, we are “resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”Tillerson added that the U.S. stands ready to assist authorities in Barcelona.President Donald Trump condemned the attack in a tweet, encouraging Spain to “be tough and strong” and saying the U.S. “will do whatever is necessary to help.” Related Sickened by horrific terror attack in Barcelona. U.S. will work w/ allies to find those responsible & bring to justice. Praying for victims. https://t.co/Z4YcbtwRcy— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 17, 2017Pence said today while on a trip to Panama, “Whatever inspired today’s terror attack, the United States stands ready to assist the people of Spain and find and punish those responsible.“On this dark day,” Pence added, “our prayers and the prayers of all the American people are with the victims, their families and the good people of Spain.”First lady Melania Trump also offered her condolences, tweeting, “Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona.”center_img The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he is “sickened” by the “horrific” attack and that the U.S. vows to work with allies “to find those responsible & bring to justice.” Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 17, 2017Former President Barack Obama tweeted, “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends.”last_img read more

An assessment of the banking system’s performance

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first_imgThe composition of Guyana’s financial sector include the banking system, the New Building Society (NBS), trust companies, finance companies, asset management companies, pension schemes and the insurance companies. The commercial banks, however, dominate the financial sector; and hence, in today’s feature, I have narrowed my focus on the banking system, to begin with.The Bank of Guyana’s half-year report for June 2017 revealed that Net Domestic Credit declined by 4.4 per cent to G0.2 billion, when compared to a 5.4 per cent reduction for the corresponding period in 2016. The net credit position to the Central Government improved G.06 billion to G.6 billion as well, while the public enterprises’ deposits fell by 32.6 per cent to G.067 billion. Credit to the Private Sector fell to 6.9 billion or 1.0 per cent on account of reduction to all sectors except the real estate mortgage, mining, construction and engineering sectors and other services.Net foreign assets of the banking system contracted by 1.1 per cent to US1.9 million at the end of June, 2017 from US1.3 million for the corresponding period in 2016. This outturn was on account of a reduction in the net foreign assets of the Central Bank, despite the net foreign assets of the commercial banks experiencing an increase of 3.2 per cent to US7 million.Turning to the liquidity profile of the banking system, total liquid assets of commercial banks amounted to G2.637 billion, which fell by 7.4 per cent below the period ended December, 2016. This outturn was on account of a reduction in the level of excess reserves held by the commercial banks. Excess liquid assets to required liquid assets ratio was 46 per cent for the period ended June, 2017 when compared to 57 per cent for the corresponding period. Total reserves deposited with the Bank of Guyana stood at .4 billion as at June, 2017, representing a reduction of 12.1 per cent from the level recorded at the end of December, 2016, reflecting a reduction in deposits at the commercial banks.Non-Performing LoansTotal non-performing loans (NPLs) stood at G$30 billion as at the end of June, 2017, representing 12.6 per cent when compared to the corresponding period, from $26.6 billion in 2016. This level of non-performing loans represents 15.7 per cent of the total loans, of which commercial banks’ total loan portfolio stood at $142.7 billion as at June, 2017. Though other indicators, as highlighted earlier, would have shown that the banking system remained relatively sound, such that the statutory liquid assets were in excess by 93.5 per cent or $78.52 billion and net income before tax stood at $7.7 billion. Given that the level of non-performing loans is one that could pose a serious threat to the soundness of the commercial banks’ portfolio, this indicator ought not to be taken lightly. Interestingly, the IMF Country Report for Guyana (2017) highlighted the fact that one domestic bank (alone) accounts for half of NPLs, though it has extended only a fifth of loans.The banking system has certainly been weakened against this backdrop, especially when looked at historically. Meaning, in the last seven years — 2010 to present — the level of non-performing loans has increased at an alarming rate: 309 per cent, from $7.307 billion in 2010 to $29.945 billion in June 2017. This outcome therefore merits the question: what are the determinants of non-performing loans? The answer is twofold; wherein the causations are stemmed from macroeconomic conditions and a bank’s specific factors.The rapid deterioration in commercial banks’ assets quality could lead to substantial losses and reduction of capital buffers. Increases in NPLs would not only increase banks’ vulnerabilities to further shocks, but also limit their lending operations, with broader repercussions for economic activity. This is evidenced by the fact that, indeed, lending has contracted during the period under review, as highlighted earlier, and as a consequence other sectors have recorded deteriorated performances as well, compared to the corresponding periods and recent years.Further, the increases in NPLs have a significant impact on credit as a share of GDP, real GDP growth, unemployment, and inflation in the periods ahead, thus validating the notion that a healthy and sustainable growth cannot be achieved without a sound and resilient banking system.Finally, citing an IMF working paper (2013) with respect to policy implications, “first, given the adverse effect of NPLs in the broader economy, and also in view of the significant contribution of bank-level factors to NPLs, there is merit in strengthening supervision to prevent a sharp build-up of NPLs in the future, including by ensuring that banks avoid excessive lending and maintaining high credit standards.”Beyond this, given that high levels of NPLs pose a burden on the economy, inter alia through limited bank lending, the need for a swift, orderly clean-up of banks’ portfolios is highlighted.last_img read more