Pierre Monnin, Terhi Jokipii, 07 October 2010

Does banking sector instability damage the real economy? Or the other way round? This column presents data from 18 OECD countries between 1980 and 2008. It finds that banking sector stability appears to be an important driver of GDP growth in subsequent quarters. It argues that monetary policy should therefore pay more attention to banking sector soundness.

Thorsten Beck, Martin Brown, 06 October 2010

Access to financial services is viewed as a key determinant of economic wellbeing, especially for households in low-income countries. This column examines how the banking structure affects access to finance in 29 transition countries. It finds that changing bank ownership, deposit insurance, payment systems, and creditor protection help the wealthiest households and have little effect on the low-income, rural, or minority households.

Paolo Angelini, Andrea Nobili, 03 October 2010

Financial markets were in a state of fear during the summer of 2007. The spread between interest rates on unsecured and secured deposits recorded an unprecedented rise. This column examines trading data from European banks to argue that the widening spread was driven by aggregate factors – risk aversion and accounting practices – rather than bank-specific concerns.

Xavier Vives, 18 September 2010

With the recent wave of bank bailouts and mergers, competition in the sector has surely been affected. This column introduces a new Policy Insight arguing that a trade-off between regulation and competition in the banking sector, while complex, does exist. The optimal policy requires coordination between regulation and competition policy depending on the level of competition in the market.

Avinash Persaud, 14 September 2010

The role of financial institutions in the global crisis has led to a consensus that financial regulation must change. This column argues that the banking lobby, far from depleted, has struck back with a vengeance. It has managed to postpone the much needed regulation for a time when the need for it will be forgotten.

Adrian Blundell-Wignall, Patrick Slovik, 14 September 2010

Despite the encouraging results from the stress tests of the EU’s banking sector, market confidence in the financial system remains subdued. This column argues that while most of the sovereign debt held by EU banks is on their banking books, the EU stress test only considered their smaller trading book exposures. Market participants do not have the luxury of being so selective.

Lucia Dalla Pellegrina, Donato Masciandaro, Rosaria Pansini, 12 September 2010

The global crisis has led policymakers in the EU and the US to broaden their central banks' mandates to include greater banking supervision. This column argues that this new responsibility should be seen as an evolution of the central bank specialisation as a monetary agent rather than a reversal of the specialisation trend.

Kenneth Snowden, 10 September 2010

Was the subprime crisis inevitable? This column looks at how the last mortgage crisis in the 1930s shaped the policy landscape in the US, arguing that it eventually led to the emergence of private securitisation in the 1990s, a surge in homebuilding and homeownership, and a second great mortgage crisis that was just around the corner.

Richard Grossman, Masami Imai, 07 September 2010

One of the striking features in the buildup to the global crisis was the extent of risk taken on by highly leveraged financial institutions. This column blames such behaviour on the limited liability status of these institutions. Using data on British banks from 1878 to 1912, it finds that the banks with greater liability for their debts took on less risk.

Yeon-Koo Che, Rajiv Sethi, 04 September 2010

The role of naked credit default swaps in the global crisis is an ongoing source of controversy. This column seeks to add some formal analysis to the debate. Its model finds that speculative side bets can have significant effects on economic fundamentals, including the terms of financing, the likelihood of default, and the scale and composition of investment expenditures.

Ralph De Haas, Neeltje van Horen, 25 August 2010

The subprime crisis and subsequent global crisis have brought bank finances firmly to public attention, with many calling for stronger regulation. This column argues that the subprime crisis offered a “wake-up call” for banks, prompting them to screen and monitor their corporate borrowers more carefully without the need for more regulation. This may have contributed to the subsequent reduction in corporate lending.

Stephen Cecchetti, Benjamin Cohen, 20 August 2010

The extent of the damage from the global crisis has forced policymakers to rethink how they regulate finance. This column first examines the long-term impact of stronger capital and liquidity requirements and then estimates the transitional economic impact as the new standards are phased in. It argues that, while such reforms may come at a short-term cost, the benefits of a stronger and healthier financial system will be around for years to come.

Gianluca Benigno, Huigang Chen, Christopher Otrok , Alessandro Rebucci, Eric Young, 16 August 2010

The fallout from global crisis has left many calling for economy-wide, macro-prudential policies, such as taxes on capital flows and capital controls. This column argues that the case for such measures is ambiguous at best – the excessive borrowing on which they are predicated is not a general and robust feature of financially developed and integrated economies.

Max Bruche, Gerard Llobet, 09 August 2010

Bank bailouts have been controversial from the outset, with some commentators saying that they reward banks for making risky loans. This column investigates the idea of an asset buyback in which a special purpose vehicle buys bad loans from banks' balance sheets. It argues that these buybacks could be structured to avoid windfall gains.

Raghuram Rajan, 09 July 2010

Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about ‘The Squam Lake Report’, which brings together 15 leading US financial economists to map out a long-term plan for financial regulation reform. Among other things, they discuss capital requirements, contingent convertibles, living wills and executive compensation in financial services. The interview was recorded in London in July 2010.

Stijn Claessens, Richard Herring, Dirk Schoenmaker, 08 July 2010

Financial reform is finally emerging in the major economies but these reforms come up short on one crucial aspect – the resolution of systematically important, i.e., ‘too complex to fail’, cross-border financial institutions. The latest Geneva Report on the World Economy advocates a two-tier solution to this problem – a universal approach for closely integrated countries such as EU members, and a modified universal approach for other countries.

Stijn Claessens, Richard Herring, Dirk Schoenmaker, 08 July 2010

The major economies' financial reforms come up short on one crucial aspect – the resolution of systematically important cross-border financial institutions. This column introduces the latest Geneva Report on the World Economy, which advocates a two-tier solution to this problem – a universal approach for closely integrated countries such as EU members and a modified universal approach for other countries. It explicitly rejects the territorial or go-it-alone approach.

Enrico Perotti, 05 July 2010

This column argues that government measures to restore confidence in the financial system have achieved a “pause in the panic”, but this is not enough. Governments still need to reverse the dramatic slide of the financial system towards unstable funding – a trend that holds a gun to the heads of governments and central banks.

Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Ulrich Klüh, Marco Wagner, Hasan Doluca, 26 June 2010

As G20 leaders meet to discuss financial reform, this column argues that it is not too late for an international solution. It says that the EU and US should lead the way with a tax on systemically important financial institutions. Beyond internalising the costs of systemic risk, such a levy would make an international agreement more likely and raise substantial funds.

Charles Goodhart, 10 June 2010

As a consensus among academics begins to emerge over counter-cyclical financial regulation, former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Charles A E Goodhart outlines why he is sceptical about “conditional convertibles” or CoCos – a form of debt that is “quasi-automatically” transformed into equity when banks get into trouble. Goodhart argues that CoCos would make the system more complex, potentially leading to problematic market dynamics.

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