Xavier Vives, Monday, December 22, 2014

Banking has recently proven much more fragile than expected. This column argues that the Basel III regulatory response overlooks the interactions between different kinds of prudential policies, and the link between prudential policy and competition policy. Capital and liquidity requirements are partially substitutable, so an increase in one requirement should generally be accompanied by a decrease in the other. Increased competitive pressure calls for tighter solvency requirements, whereas increased disclosure requirements or the introduction of public signals may require tighter liquidity requirements.

Stephen Cecchetti, Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Regulators forced up capital requirements after the Global Crisis – triggering fears in the banking industry of dire effects. This column – by former BIS Chief Economist Steve Cecchetti – introduces a new CEPR Policy Insight that argues that the capital increases had little impact on anything but bank profitability. Lending spreads and interest margins are nearly unchanged, while credit growth remains robust everywhere but in Europe. Perhaps the requirements should be raised further. 

Stephen Cecchetti, Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Regulators forced up capital requirements up after the Global Crisis – triggering fears in the industry of dire effects. CEPR Policy Insight 76 – by former BIS Chief Economist Steve Cecchetti – argues that the capital increases had little impact on anything but bank profitability. Lending spreads and interest margins are nearly unchanged, while credit growth remains robust everywhere but in Europe. Perhaps the requirements should be raised further. 

Christian Thimann, Friday, October 17, 2014

Having completed the regulatory framework for systemically important banks, the Financial Stability Board is turning to insurance companies. The emerging framework for insurers closely resembles that for banks, culminating in the design and calibration of capital surcharges. This column argues that the contrasting business models and balance sheet structures of insurers and banks – and the different roles of capital, leverage, and risk absorption in the two sectors – mean that the banking model of capital cannot be applied to insurance. Tools other than capital surcharges may be more appropriate to address possible concerns of systemic risk. 

Patricia Jackson, Monday, October 13, 2014

Following the Global Crisis the focus has been on how to make banks safer. Capital and liquidity requirements have been tightened, but attention now needs to shift to corporate governance and risk culture. This column argues that in opaque organisations, formal risk-appetite frameworks can provide a pre-commitment mechanism that tightens risk governance, but a focus on the wider risk culture is also important.

Christian Thimann, Friday, October 10, 2014

Regulation of the global insurance industry, an emerging challenge in international finance, has two central objectives: strengthening the oversight of insurance companies designated ‘systemically important’; and designing a global capital standard for internationally active insurers. This column argues that it is a Herculean task because the business model of insurance is less globalised than other areas in finance; because global regulators have less experience of insurance than banking where global standards have been pursued for a quarter of a century; and because, as yet, there is limited research-based understanding of the insurance business and its interactions with the financial system and the real economy. But in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and the AIG disaster, regulators are under strong pressure to make progress.

Olivier Blanchard, Friday, October 3, 2014

Before the 2008 crisis, the mainstream worldview among US macroeconomists was that economic fluctuations were regular and essentially self-correcting. In this column, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard explains how this benign view of fluctuations took hold in the profession, and what lessons have been learned since the crisis. He argues that macroeconomic policy should aim to keep the economy away from ‘dark corners’, where it can malfunction badly.

Jonathan Bridges, David Gregory, Mette Nielsen, Silvia Pezzini, Amar Radia, Marco Spaltro, Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Since the Global Crisis, support has grown for the use of time-varying capital requirements as a macroprudential policy tool. This column examines the effect of bank-specific, time-varying capital requirements in the UK between 1990 and 2011. In response to increased capital requirements, banks gradually increase their capital ratios to restore their original buffers above the regulatory minimum, reducing lending temporarily as they do so. The largest effects are on commercial real estate lending, followed by lending to other corporates and then secured lending to households.

Harold Cole, Thomas F Cooley, Sunday, June 22, 2014

In the aftermath of the sub-prime crisis, the major credit rating agencies have been criticised for giving overly generous ratings to mortgage-backed securities. Whereas many commentators have blamed the ‘issuer pays’ market structure for distorting incentives, this column argues that the key distortion came from regulators’ use of private ratings to assign risk weights. This induced investors to focus on the risk weights attached to ratings rather than their information content, thus undermining the reputation mechanism that had previously kept ratings honest.

Paolo Angelini, Giuseppe Grande, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The ‘deadly embrace’ between banks and their government has strengthened with the EZ Crisis. This column argues that this has mostly been consequence rather than a cause of the Crisis. Moreover, adverse bank-sovereign negative feedback depends on the economy-wide effects of the sovereign risk, not just the banks’ direct exposure. Loosening the embrace requires sound public finances and well-capitalized, well-supervised banks – including the banking union project.

Joseph Noss, Priscilla Toffano, Sunday, April 6, 2014

The impact of tighter regulatory capital requirements during an economic upswing is a key question in macroprudential policy. This column discusses research suggesting that an increase of 15 basis points in aggregate capital ratios of banks operating in the UK is associated with a median reduction of around 1.4% in the level of lending after 16 quarters. The impact on quarterly GDP growth is statistically insignificant, a result that is consistent with firms substituting away from bank credit and towards that supplied via bond markets.

Jens Hagendorff, Francesco Vallascas, Monday, December 16, 2013

Recent research shows that capital requirements are only loosely related to a market measure of bank portfolio risk. Changes introduced under Basel II meant that banks with the riskiest portfolios were particularly likely to hold insufficient capital. Banks that relied on government support during the crisis appeared to be well-capitalised beforehand, suggesting they engaged in capital arbitrage. Until the regulatory concept of risk better reflects actual risk, the proposed increases in risk-weighted capital requirements under Basel III will have little effect.

Charles W Calomiris, Thursday, November 28, 2013

There is widespread agreement that government protection of banks contributed to the financial crisis, leading to proposals to require banks to finance a larger share of their portfolios with equity instead of debt – thus forcing shareholders to absorb losses instead of taxpayers. This column argues that equity ratios relative to asset risk are what matter, not equity ratios per se. Although higher equity requirements for banks may be desirable, the costs of reduced loan supply should be taken into account.

Thorsten Beck, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For better or worse, banking is back in the headlines. From the desperate efforts of crisis-struck Eurozone governments to the Occupy Wall Street movement currently spreading across the globe, the future of banking is hotly debated. This VoxEU.org eBook presents a collection of essays by leading European and American economists that discuss both immediate solutions to the on-going financial crisis and medium- to long-term regulatory reforms.

Viral Acharya, Matthew Richardson, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Macroprudential regulation aims to reduce systemic risk by correcting the negative externalities caused by breakdowns in financial intermediation. This column describes the shortcomings of the Dodd-Frank legislation as a piece of macroprudential regulation. It says the Act’s ex post charges for systemic risk don’t internalise the negative externality and its capital requirements may be arbitrary and easily gamed.

Viral Acharya, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Vickers Commission recommends separating commercial and noncommercial banking activities in order to protect core financial functions from riskier activities. This column warns that such ring-fencing may fail because there are still incentive problems in traditional banking activities. The accompanying risk-weighted capital requirement recommendations will address this only if we do a better job of measuring risks.

Jon Danielsson, Monday, June 27, 2011

A debate is raging on capital adequacy requirements for banks. The UK wants to be allowed to “top up” the agreed levels, i.e. to impose stricter capital standards than the EU minimum. This column argues the UK is right, and that the German and French opposition might be motivated by weaknesses in their banking systems.

Viral Acharya, Friday, June 17, 2011

Viral Acharya of New York University talks to Viv Davies about capital requirements and measuring systemic risk. Acharya describes the development of the NYU Stern systemic risk rankings of US financial institutions and what he considers to be the dismal failure of the Basel risk-weight approach to addressing systemic risk. He cautions against the blanket call for more capital and instead recommends for more capital against systemic risk contributions of financial firms. He also discusses the shadow banking sector and how banking risk and sovereign risk are becoming dangerously intertwined. The interview was recorded in London on 2 June 2011. [Also read the transcript]

David Miles, Friday, February 25, 2011

David Miles of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee talks to Viv Davies about ‘Monetary Policy in Extraordinary Times’, a speech he delivered in London on 23 February 2011. Two very large shocks have hit the UK economy – the near collapse of the banking system and, more recently, a sharp increase in commodity, energy and food prices. The first shock is deflationary, the second inflationary. Miles discusses how best to set monetary policy in the wake of these shocks and analyses how regulation and monetary policy can most effectively reduce the likelihood of future financial instability. <i> [Also read the transcript] </i>

Avinash Persaud, Saturday, June 13, 2009

There is a strong consensus that banks had insufficient reserves set aside for a rainy day and that they should be required to hold more capital. This column says we should differentiate institutions less by what they are called and more by how they are funded. Encouraging individual risks to flow to those who can absorb them would make the system safer and introduce new players with risk capacities.