The crisis has revealed the vulnerabilities of the Eurozone financial sector and the critical role the sector plays in the real economy. It also made it clear that the Eurozone banking system needs fixing. But what reforms should we implement? It is critical that much better legislation be both discussed and implemented if we wish to properly regulate the financial sector. This column opens a Vox debate on banking reform whose aim is to stimulate an open and broad-ranging discussion on banking reform.
The crisis has shown how the Eurozone needs instruments to control bank-funding risks, as implementation of the necessary prudential legislation at the EU level has been much postponed. This column argues that the delay creates a precarious situation, especially in the Eurozone where a banking union is been introduced. Currently all liquidity policy is at the national level. Without some form of coordination, this shift all bank funding risk to ultimate ECB support without the Single Supervisory Mechanism having any adequate transition tools.
Rejigging financial regulation is in vogue. But, in the world of international finance, how well do different regulatory systems join up? This column argues that the US Dodd Frank Act and Basel III are, in part, incompatible and that harmonising them may lead to unintended consequences. The US ought to tread carefully here but should also try hard to maintain the spirit of better financial regulation.
Over the last few decades, banking regulators and supervisors have failed to do their job. This column argues that a failure of political will enabled stakeholders to pursue bad practices, and suggests a roadmap for reform. Enforcing a reform agenda marked by simplicity is plausible, and would avoid much of the collateral damage that comes from many hundreds of pages of complex, costly and misguided mandates that typically act as substitutes for credible reform. Overcoming the challenge of political will, however, remains a challenge.
Stijn Claessens, Zoltan Pozsar, Lev Ratnovski, Manmohan Singh, 12 January 2013
The risks associated with shadow banking are at the forefront of the regulatory debate. Yet, this column argues that there is as yet no established analytical approach to shadow banking. This means that policy priorities are not clearly motivated. But if we analyse securitisation and collateral intermediation – the two shadow banking functions most important for financial stability – a solid framework that includes existing policy recommendations, as well as some alternative ones, begins to emerge.
Internationally prominent economists and politicians have been pushing for effective implementation and better coordination of the new financial regulations currently under construction across the globe. This columns argues that at a time of crisis, financial regulators were forced to act on systemically important assets and liabilities, rather than just on the individual financial institutions holding them. A key turning point towards better regulation will be when we recognise the need for such action ahead of time, building the essential infrastructure that ensures excessive risk-taking is discouraged.
The Subprime Crisis became the Global Crisis when one too-big-to-fail bank was allowed to fail. This column argues that too-big-to-fail is far from gone despite years of reform efforts. It is important that it not be forgotten. Further analytical work, weighing the costs and benefits of different structural reform proposals, would help keep memories fresh and policies on the right track.
Has unconsidered use of technology and exasperated market competition carried finance way afar from its original purpose, i.e. to serve the economy? This column offers a set of simple suggestions for complex interventions on the financial regulatory world. It suggests incentives be designed to lead financial institutions to place people’s real economic needs at the core of their mission, thus humanising finance.
Do financial institution managers only owe enforceable duties of loyalty, competence and care to their stockholders and explicit creditors, but not to taxpayers or government supervisors? This column argues that in the current information and ethical environments, regulating accounting leverage cannot adequately protect taxpayers from regulation-induced innovation. We ought to aim for establishing enforceable duties of loyalty and care to taxpayers for managers of financial firms. Authorities need to put aside their unreliable, capital proxy: they should measure, control, and price the ebb and flow of safety-net benefits directly.