Service sector regulation and exports: Evidence from Spain
Rafael Doménech, Mónica Correa-López 10 August 2014
Exporting goods requires services. This column discusses new evidence showing that the improvement in services regulations that took place over the 1990s and 2000s in Spain substantially increased the volume of exports of manufacturing firms, especially of large corporations.
During the crisis, recommendations to improve market functioning in advanced economies have ranked consistently high in the policy portfolio of international institutions (OECD 2014, Buti and Padoan 2013). Among the guidelines, the removal of anti-competitive regulations in the provision of key services that are inputs to other stages of production may be especially relevant to firm performance.
services, regulation, service sector, liberalization
Credit ratings and regulatory risk weights
Harold Cole, Thomas F Cooley 22 June 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.
One of the casualties of the financial crisis has been the reputation of the major credit rating agencies. To many, the problem with the credit ratings business seems obvious:
- The ‘issuer-pays’ market structure, in which the issuers pay the agencies to rate their debt instruments, distorts incentives.
The issuers want higher ratings to lower their cost of borrowing, and can shop among raters to get higher ratings (Pagano and Volpin 2010). Seems obvious, right?
Financial markets Global crisis Microeconomic regulation
regulation, credit rating agencies, capital requirements, risk weights, sub-prime crisis, reputation
Net neutrality: A simple goal with some difficult implementation ahead
Joshua Gans 11 June 2014
Netflix recently agreed to pay Comcast for faster access to Comcast’s customers, intensifying the debate over ‘net neutrality’ – the principle that internet service providers should treat all data equally. This column argues that without net neutrality regulation, ISPs can capture the benefits of higher-quality content, thereby discouraging innovation from content providers. To be effective, net-neutrality regulation must prevent content-based price discrimination on both sides of the market.
Net neutrality has a simple goal – to ensure that consumers face an undistorted choice in choosing where to devote their attention on the Internet. The rationale for that goal is to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for those who provide content, applications, or anything else via the Internet.
Competition policy Industrial organisation Microeconomic regulation
US, technology, market power, regulation, internet, price discrimination, net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission
Are banks too large?
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.
Large banks have grown significantly in size and become more involved in market-based activities since the late 1990s. Figure 1 shows how the balance-sheet size of the world’s largest banks increased two- to four-fold in the ten years prior to the crisis. Figure 2 illustrates how banks shifted from traditional lending towards market-oriented activities.
regulation, economies of scale, bank regulation, banking, Too big to fail, systemic risk, BASEL III, bank resolution, bank capital
Spillovers from systemic bank defaults
Mark Mink, Jakob de Haan 24 May 2014
To date, much uncertainty exists about how large the spillovers would be from the default of a systemically important bank. This column shows evidence that the market values of US and EU banks hardly respond to changes in the default risk of banks that the Financial Stability Board considers globally systemically important (G-SIBs). However, changes in all G-SIBs’ default risk explain a substantial part of changes in bank market values. These findings have implications for financial-crisis management and prevention policies.
Financial-crisis management and prevention policies often focus on mitigating spillovers from the default of systemically important banks. During the recent crisis, governments avoided large bank failures by insuring and purchasing intermediaries’ troubled assets, by providing them with capital injections, and even by outright nationalisations. After the crisis, financial regulators designed additional requirements for those institutions that the Financial Stability Board designated as globally systemically important banks (G-SIBs).
financial stability, spillovers, regulation, banking, banks, systemic risk
Determinants of generic medicine adoption
Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Nebibe Varol 10 May 2014
Generic medicines are cheaper than their branded counterparts, offering potential savings in healthcare budgets. Medicine-price regulation plays an important role in the expansion of the market for generic medicines. This column presents new evidence that higher levels of price regulation, by lowering the expected price to generic manufacturers, lead (ceteris paribus) to greater delays in generic entry.
With healthcare budgets around the world under pressure, switching to generics seems a natural cost saver. Generic drugs are cheaper alternatives to branded medicines, offering an obvious source of efficiency gains to any health system.
Competition policy Health economics
competition, pharmaceuticals, health, regulation, healthcare, drugs, medicine, generics
Is cannabis use really so harmful?
Ali Palali, Jan van Ours 01 May 2014
There is a robust positive association between support for cannabis liberalisation and cannabis use, but it is unclear whether users have discovered that cannabis is innocuous, or if these types are inherently more liberal regarding drug policy. This column exploits variations in opinion between current and former cannabis users to work towards establishing causality. Results suggest that supporters of liberalisation are speaking from experience rather than personal interest.
Cannabis is prohibited in many countries. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2013) discusses several alternatives to prohibition, varying from decriminalisation to regulation and legalisation.
cannabis, regulation, Prohibition, drug policy, legalisation, decriminalisation
How much is enough? The case of the Resolution Fund in Europe
Thomas Huertas, María J Nieto 18 March 2014
The European Resolution Fund is intended to reach €55 billion – much less than the amount of public assistance required by individual institutions during the recent financial crisis. This column argues that the Resolution Fund can nevertheless be large enough if it forms part of a broader architecture resting on four pillars: prudential regulation and supervision, ‘no forbearance’, adequate ‘reserve capital’, and provision of liquidity to the bank-in-resolution. By capping the Resolution Fund, policymakers have reinforced the need to ensure that investors, not taxpayers, bear the cost of bank failures.
During the crisis, individual institutions such as Hypo Real Estate required public assistance of €100 billion or more.1 So how can a European Resolution Fund of only €55 billion possibly suffice for all banks in the Eurozone?
It could, provided the Fund is part of a well-designed architecture for regulation, supervision, and resolution, that makes banks not only less likely to fail but also safe to fail – meaning that they can be resolved without cost to the taxpayer and without significant disruption to financial markets or the economy at large.
EU institutions Financial markets International finance
eurozone, regulation, banking, systemic risk, microprudential regulation, bank resolution, Macroprudential policy, bail-in, European Resolution Fund
Market mechanisms for regulation: Cap-and-trade and Obamacare
Jeffrey Frankel 27 February 2014
Market-based mechanisms such as cap-and-trade can tackle externality problems more efficiently than command-and-control regulations. However, politicians in the US and Europe have retreated from cap-and-trade in recent years. This column draws a parallel between Republicans’ abandonment of market-based environmental regulation and their recent disavowal of mandatory health insurance. The author argues that in practice, the alternative to market-based regulation is not an absence of regulation, but rather the return of inefficient mandates and subsidies.
Markets can fail. But market mechanisms are often the best way for governments to address such failures. This has been demonstrated in areas from air pollution, to traffic congestion, to spectrum allocation, to cigarette consumption.
Environment Politics and economics
environment, global warming, pollution, regulation, healthcare, Cap-and-trade, market-based mechanisms, Obamacare, EU ETS
The determinants of banks’ liquidity buffers and the role of liquidity regulation
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.
Until recently, liquidity risk was not the main focus of banking regulators. However, the 2007–2009 crisis showed how rapidly market conditions can change, exposing severe liquidity risks for some institutions. Although capital buffers were effective in reducing liquidity stress to some extent, they were not always sufficient. In the light of this, efforts are underway internationally as well as in individual countries to establish or reform existing liquidity risk frameworks – most notably the proposals by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS 2013).
Financial markets Microeconomic regulation
transparency, liquidity, regulation, banking, Too big to fail, disclosure