Many policies have been put in place to constrain the expansion of banks across economic borders, in part to avoid them becoming too big and interconnected to fail. However, some argue that such expansion can reduce risk. This column evaluates the impact of geographic expansion on the cost of a bank’s interest-bearing liabilities. Geographic diversification materially lowers bank holding companies’ funding costs, suggesting there is a real cost of restricting banks from using geographic expansion to diversify their risks.
Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Wensi Xie, 07 October 2016
Angus Armstrong, Philip Davis, 22 April 2016
Since the Global Crisis, a number of regulatory policies have been discussed, proposed and sometimes implemented to address shortcomings in the regulatory framework. This column presents the views of the speakers at a recent conference on whether we have reached an efficient outcome. For most of the speakers, the answer was a resounding “no”.
Xavier Vives, 17 March 2015
The 2007–08 crisis revealed regulatory failures that had allowed the shadow banking system and systemic risk to grow unchecked. This column evaluates recent proposals to reform the banking industry. Although appropriate pricing of risk should make activity restrictions redundant, there may nevertheless be complementarities between these two approaches. Ring-fencing may make banking groups more easily resolvable and therefore lower the cost of imposing market discipline.
Lev Ratnovski, Luc Laeven, Hui Tong, 31 May 2014
Large banks have grown and become more involved in market-based activities since the late 1990s. This column presents evidence that large banks receive too-big-to-fail subsidies and create systemic risk, whereas economies of scale in banking are modest. Hence, some large banks may be ‘too large’ from a social perspective. Since the optimal bank size is unknown, the best policies are capital surcharges and better bank resolution and governance.
Clemens Bonner, Iman van Lelyveld, Robert Zymek, 01 November 2013
What are the determinants of banks’ liquidity holdings and how are these reshaped by liquidity regulation? Based on a sample of 7,000 banks in 30 OECD countries, this column argues that banks’ liquidity buffers are determined by a combination of both bank- and country-specific variables. The presence of liquidity regulation substitutes for most of these determinants while complementing the role of size and institutions’ disclosure requirements. The complementary nature of disclosure and liquidity requirements provides a strong rationale for considering them jointly in the design of regulation.
Thomas Huertas, María Nieto, 19 September 2013
To end moral hazard, investors, not taxpayers, should bear the loss associated with bank failures. Recently, the EU took a major step in this direction with the Banking Recovery and Resolution Directive. This column argues that this is a game changer. It assures through the introduction of the bail-in tool that investors, not taxpayers, will primarily bear the cost of bank failures, and it opens the door to resolving banks in a manner that will not significantly disrupt financial markets.
Dirk Schoenmaker, 25 August 2013
After the financial crisis, there was a shift from international to multinational banks due to supervisors’ increasingly national approach. This column provides an alternative solution that aims to keep international banking alive. What is key is that, first, national supervisors are internationally coordinated and, second, that the whole system is supported up by an appropriate fiscal backstop.
Franziska Bremus, Claudia Buch, Katheryn Russ, Monika Schnitzer, 10 July 2013
The regulation of big banks has been in the spotlight for many reasons. This column adds to the list. Examining evidence for more than 80 countries for the years 1995-2009, banking systems are shown to be highly concentrated. In many cases, the banks are so big that bank-specific credit-growth fluctuations affect the macroeconomy.
Edward Kane, 30 January 2013
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.
Andrew Haldane, 17 January 2013
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.
Joshua Aizenman, Ilan Noy, 21 November 2012
Are countries that have previously experienced banking crises less vulnerable to them in the future? This column argues that, in fact, previous crises might make future crises more likely. There isn’t much evidence of a learning process from past mistakes because the regulator often lags behind banking’s pace of innovation. Preparing to prevent the last crisis does not prevent the next and it seems that the ‘too big to fail’ doctrine provides cover for banks, delaying the day of adjustment.
Arnoud Boot, 25 October 2011
The financial sector has become increasingly complex in terms of its speed and interconnectedness. This column says that market discipline won’t stabilise financial markets, and complexity makes regulating markets more difficult. It advocates substantial intervention in order to restructure the banking industry, address institutional complexity, and correct misaligned incentives.
Tim Besley, Maitreesh Ghatak, 27 August 2011
As we approach three years since the fall of Lehman Brothers, the incentives that led the financial sector to take on too much risk still exist. This column argues that they will remain so long as governments continue to provide an implicit guarantee that banks will be bailed out. To tackle this, the authors dare to propose a tax on bonuses.
Jean-Louis Arcand, Enrico Berkes, Ugo Panizza, 07 April 2011
Over the last three decades the US financial sector has grown six times faster than nominal GDP. This column argues that there comes a point when the financial sector has a negative effect on growth – that is, when credit to the private sector exceeds 110% of GDP. It shows that, of the advanced countries currently suffering in the fallout of the global crisis were all above this threshold.
Giorgio Barba Navaretti, Alberto Pozzolo, Giacomo Calzolari, Micol Levi, 23 May 2010
Many commentators have called for regulation to prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail”. This column adds a cautionary note. A world with only small and domestic banks is no safer. The key benefit of multinational banks – being able to mobilise funds across countries – could still be extremely useful for maintaining stability in times of distress.
Stefano Micossi, 16 March 2010
Policymakers and commentators have suggested that large banks should be broken up. This column argues that such an idea risks the very existence of a global financial system. It outlines an alternative framework in which deposit insurance should be covered by banks not taxpayers, banks should not be guaranteed a bailout, and regulators should be mandated to step in when the warning signs begin.
Daniel Gros, 26 January 2010
Did allowing financial institutions to become “too big” play a role in the financial crisis? This column argues that being “too interconnected” is also a factor, and that US accounting standards should recognise gross derivatives exposure on the balance sheet to make this interconnectedness, and the resulting exposure, clear.
Jorge Chan-Lau, Marco Espinosa-Vega, Kay Giesecke, Juan Solé, 02 May 2009
The current financial crisis has underscored the problem of institutions that are too connected to be allowed to fail. This column suggests new methodologies that could form the basis for policies and regulation to address the too-connected-to-fail problem.
Donato Masciandaro, 04 January 2009
Government guarantees for financial institutions that are "too big to fail" seem unavoidable, but such insurance against insolvency imposes major costs and may increase the risk of crisis. This column argues for the necessity of non-conventional regulatory solutions to make big banks pay for their implicit insurance. Progressive capital ratios may be one such solution.