Financial rescue and regulation

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Lead Commentaries

Viral Acharya, Matthew Richardson , 07 February 2009

How did global finance become so fragile that a collection of bad mortgages in the US could bring the entire system to its knees and the global economy along with it? How can this fragility be eliminated? This column describes the answers provided in an important new book which has been written by a team of world-class scholars from NYU’s business school.

Hyun Song Shin, 31 January 2009

Today’s financial regulation is founded on the assumption that making each bank safe makes the system safe. This fallacy of composition goes a long way towards explaining how global finance became so fragile without sounding regulatory alarm bells. This column argues that mitigating the costs of financial crises necessitates taking a macroprudential perspective to complement the existing microprudential rules.

Banks’ corporate governance is under fire. Perhaps one of the worst failures of governance has been the continued payment of dividends throughout the financial crisis. This column says that dividends’ erosion of common equity deprived banks of capital when they most needed it. It proposes cutting dividends as the first step in the resolution of future banking crises.

Hyun Song Shin, 18 March 2009

Did securitisation disperse risks? This column argues that it undermined financial stability by concentrating risk. Securitisation allowed banks to leverage up in tranquil times while concentrating risks in the banking system by inducing banks and other financial intermediaries to buy each other’s securities with borrowed money.

Willem Buiter, 14 March 2009

Zombie banks need fixing. Good Bank and Bad Bank solutions are the leading contenders. This column reviews the implications for distributional, incentive, and financial stability effects. It argues that too-big-too-fail bank should immediately be taken into public ownership and restructured decisively through a mandatory debt-to-equity conversion or debt write-down. The Fed and Treasury have been captured by save-unsecured-creditors reasoning pushed by special interest groups.

Ricardo Caballero, 22 February 2009

Banks must be fixed as their troubles are at the heart of the economic recession. In this column, one of the world’s most distinguished macroeconomists suggests a radical alternative to current policies. Governments should promise to buy twice the number of outstanding bank shares in 5 years at twice their recent prices. Markets would immediately price-in this pledge, and the resulting price boom would allow banks to raise necessary capital from private sources.

Enrico Perotti, Javier Suarez, 11 February 2009

Most financial system reform proposals rely on better managed, anti-cyclical capital requirements, or some sort of insurance. This column argues that mandatory liquidity insurance would be more effective. The insurance premiums – linked to maturity mismatch and term structure – would essentially be pre-payment for the cost of future financial crises and held in an Emergency Liquidity Insurance Fund.

Daniel Gros, 05 February 2009

Uncertainty over losses from toxic assets is blocking the resumption of bank lending – thus prolonging and deepening the recession. Governments should take over these assets to kick-start credit markets, but to avoid the “market for lemons” problem, the bad bank should be big, and banks should be forced to transfer their entire portfolio of toxic assets.

Obama’s sweeping proposal for financial regulation took the world by surprise. Here two of the world’s leading professors of finance explain why it is step in the right direction from the standpoint of addressing systemic risk. They also point out a number of drawbacks that should be fixed.

Banks’ corporate governance is under fire. Perhaps one of the worst failures of governance has been the continued payment of dividends throughout the financial crisis. This column says that dividends’ erosion of common equity deprived banks of capital when they most needed it. It proposes cutting dividends as the first step in the resolution of future banking crises.

Lars Jonung, 14 March 2009

Sweden's fix of its banks in the early 1990s is considered a model for today’s policymakers. This column reviews the main features of the Swedish approach and discusses its applicability to today’s banking problems. Policy must be carried out swiftly and openly, aiming at saving banks, not their owners or managers.

Robert Hall, Susan Woodward, 24 February 2009

Japan’s woes in the 1990s were prolonged by allowing ‘zombie’ banks to continue doing business (deleveraging slowly). Preventing this is a priority in today’s crisis, hence the many schemes for creating good/bad banks. This column, coauthored by one of the world’s leading macroeconomist, suggests a novel way of separating existing banks into good and bad entities.

Enrico Perotti, Javier Suarez, 11 February 2009

Most financial system reform proposals rely on better managed, anti-cyclical capital requirements, or some sort of insurance. This column argues that mandatory liquidity insurance would be more effective. The insurance premiums – linked to maturity mismatch and term structure – would essentially be pre-payment for the cost of future financial crises and held in an Emergency Liquidity Insurance Fund.

Viral Acharya, Matthew Richardson , 07 February 2009

How did global finance become so fragile that a collection of bad mortgages in the US could bring the entire system to its knees and the global economy along with it? How can this fragility be eliminated? This column describes the answers provided in an important new book which has been written by a team of world-class scholars from NYU’s business school.

Obama’s sweeping proposal for financial regulation took the world by surprise. Here two of the world’s leading professors of finance explain why it is step in the right direction from the standpoint of addressing systemic risk. They also point out a number of drawbacks that should be fixed.

Luigi Zingales, 28 January 2009

In 1933, US securities regulations were introduced to restore trust in financial markets. Today, a new regulatory focus is needed to address the crisis of confidence. After reviewing the status of financial regulation, this column sketches policy proposals in three key areas of securities markets.

Banks’ corporate governance is under fire. Perhaps one of the worst failures of governance has been the continued payment of dividends throughout the financial crisis. This column says that dividends’ erosion of common equity deprived banks of capital when they most needed it. It proposes cutting dividends as the first step in the resolution of future banking crises.

Ricardo Caballero, 18 March 2009

Financial markets are not reacting well to the US Treasury’s Capital Assistance Programme. This column fleshes out Ricardo Caballero's plan for raising private capital by leveraging a government-guaranteed price five years from today. This implicit put option should cut out Knightian uncertainty about banks’ health, draw in capital, and avoid excessive government control. If it works, the cost to taxpayers would be minimal.

Robert Hall, Susan Woodward, 24 February 2009

Japan’s woes in the 1990s were prolonged by allowing ‘zombie’ banks to continue doing business (deleveraging slowly). Preventing this is a priority in today’s crisis, hence the many schemes for creating good/bad banks. This column, coauthored by one of the world’s leading macroeconomist, suggests a novel way of separating existing banks into good and bad entities.

Thomas Philippon, 15 February 2009

Proposals for financial regulatory reform are everywhere. This column presents an opinionated synthesis of the key issues and proposals with the aim of focusing and stimulating the debate.