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Ms. Inci Ötker and Ceyla Pazarbasioglu
Financial sector reforms are being considered to address the risks posed by large and complex financial institutions (LCFIs). The vast majority of global finance is intermediated by a handful of these institutions with growing interconnections within and across borders. Common trends that contributed to the recent global crisis included sharp increases in leverage, significant reliance on short-term wholesale funding, growth of off-balance-sheet activities, maturity mismatches, and increased share of revenues from complex products and trading activities. The key objective of the financial sector reforms is to promote a less leveraged, less risky (or better cushioned), and thus a more resilient financial system that supports strong and sustainable economic growth. The recent proposals of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) on capital standards represent a substantial improvement in the quantity and quality of capital in comparison with the pre-crisis situation. The analysis of this paper suggests that, subject to usual caveats associated with limited data disclosures and availability, phase-in arrangements will allow most banks to move to these higher standards through earnings retention, assuming a modest economic and earnings outlook. It also suggests that should banks generate strong earnings in the coming years, and distribute lower dividends, they could rebuild common equity capital ratios faster than required under the current phase-in periods. The analysis of the paper also suggests that the new capital standards will have a significant impact on investment-banking-type activities, including through tighter requirements for trading book exposures. Investment banking activities will also be affected by a host of other regulatory initiatives, including the new accounting rules and higher standards for securitization, derivatives, and trading businesses, as well as measures to restrain certain activities. Yet, LCFIs with an investment banking focus have flexible business models and can adjust their strategies easily to mitigate the effects of the regulatory reforms, notwithstanding a multitude of regulations affecting their activities. The ultimate effect of the reforms on business models remains to be seen until the regulations take their final shape.
Ms. Marina Moretti, Mr. Aditya Narain, Ms. Laura E. Kodres, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, José Vinãls, and Jonathan Fiechter
Three years after the onset of the global financial crisis, much has been done to reform the global financial system, but there is much left to accomplish. The regulatory reform agenda agreed by G-20 leaders in 2009 has elevated the discussions to the highest policy level and kept international attention focused on establishing a globally consistent set of rules. Comprehensive reform, once agreed and implemented in full, will have far-reaching implications for the global financial system and the performance of the world economy. In designing the reforms, it is imperative that policymakers keep their focus on the overarching objective of creating a financial system that provides a solid foundation for strong and sustainable economic growth. This paper argues that the current reforms are moving in the right direction, but many policy choices lie ahead—nationally and internationally?which are both urgent and challenging. Policies need to address not only the risks posed by individual banks but also, importantly, those posed by nonbanks and the system as a whole. The recent proposals of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) represent a substantial improvement in the quality and quantity of bank capital, but these apply only to a subset of the financial system.
Mr. Robert Rennhack
The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has weathered the global financial crisis reasonably well so far, although tighter global financial conditions began to take their toll on trade, capital flows and economic growth in late 2008. This resilience reflects the reforms put in place by many countries over the past decade to strengthen financial supervision and adopt sound macroeconomic policies. Building on this progress, the region’s financial sector reform agenda now aims at further improvements, including steps aiming to improve compliance with the Basel Core Principles of Banking Supervision and to broaden and deepen domestic financial markets.