Financial regulation and banking

Çağatay Bircan, Orkun Saka, 10 May 2019

Government ownership of banks can help solve credit market failures and stabilise the supply of credit over the business cycle. However, it can also end up serving political interests and lead to a misallocation of financial resources. This column provides new evidence that state-owned banks systematically engage in tactical redistribution of credit in line with the political incentives of those in power. Analysing the geographical distribution of all lending and economic activity in Turkey, it shows that the central government may use commercial lending by state-owned banks to support allies in local elections.

Jeremy Bulow, 09 May 2019

Bank stress tests in the US were an important tool for bailing out banks in the Great Recession. As this column points out, however, because the tests use regulatory rather than market measures of asset values and risk they have almost nothing to do with whether a bank will be economically solvent under test conditions. This column argues that the thousands of pages of post-crisis bank regulation have largely ignored perhaps the two most needed reforms: measuring asset values and risks in an economically realistic way. Reforming the stress tests is necessary for clearly and credibly placing responsibility for future banking losses in the private sector and for improving incentives for both managing old risks and for investing in new ones. 

Thorsten Beck, Liliana Rojas-Suarez, 04 May 2019

The Global Crisis originated in the financial systems of advanced countries, so it is unsurprising that the Basel III international standards focused on the stability needs of these countries. This column assesses the implications of Basel III for emerging markets and developing economies. It also outlines the recommendations from a task force of current and former senior officials from central banks in these countries on how to make Basel III work for them.  

Pierpaolo Benigno, 26 April 2019

Cryptocurrencies have attracted the attention of consumers, policymakers and the media. This column investigates whether they can jeopardise the primary function of central banks, namely, controlling inflation and economic activity. Currency competition can succeed in calming inflation and preventing the sort of manipulation of interest rates and prices to which governments have historically been prone. But currency competition may also lead to government money losing the function of medium of exchange, which could be risky and lead government currency into further troubles. 

Jens Josephson, Joel Shapiro, 09 April 2019

The poor performance of credit ratings of structured finance products in the financial crisis has prompted investigation into the role of credit rating agencies. This column discusses the incidence of rating inflation when such an agency both designs and rates securities, highlighting the role of demand from investors that face rating constraints, such as banks, pension funds, or insurance companies. It finds that ratings are accurate when these constraints are very tight or very lax, but inflated otherwise.

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