Armenia - Banking and securities

The Central Bank of Armenia is charged with regulating the money supply, circulating currency, and regulating the commercial banks of the country. Commercial banks in Armenia include the Ardshinbank, Armagrobank, Armeconombank, Armimplexbank, Arminvestbank, Bank Armcommunication, Bank "Capital," Bank "Haykap," Central Bank of Armenia, Commercial Bank "Ardana," Commercial Bank Anelik, "Gladzor" Joint Stock Commercial Bank, Masis Commercial Bank, and the State Specialized Savings Bank of the Republic of Armenia. Leading foreign banks include: Mellat Bank (Iran) and Midland Armenia (UK).

The IMF has been concerned about the direction of policy taken by the National Bank of Armenia and the slow pace of financial reform. Armenia's financial sector is overbanked and beset with non-performing credits, mainly to large state enterprises. Armenia has been a model reforming country among the former Soviet republics, and multilateral creditors are worried that public pressure may now force the government to loosen monetary and fiscal policies.

It was revealed in January 1997 that the central bank's credits to finance the government's budget gap has surpassed their $100 million limit in the first ten months of 1996. The bank has been forced to intervene in the domestic markets, selling foreign exchange reserves to maintain the stability of the dram. The dram has lost some 14% in value since September 1996, when it stood at D 412:$1. By the end of June 1997 the rate had gone down to almost D 500:$1. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $141.6 million. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $310.3 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 19.4%.

There are three stock exchanges in Armenia the largest of which is the Yerevan Stock Exchange which listed 91 companies in 1999 and had total cpitialization of $17 million. The next largest is the "Adamand" Yerevan Commodity and Stock Exchange which listed 45 compainies.

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