Revising bank-capital standards

A STEEP climb awaited the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in Santiago on November 28th and 29th. The central bankers and regulators hoped to agree on revisions to Basel 3, the post-crisis version of bank-capital standards. On November 30th Stefan Ingves, the group’s chairman and head of Sweden’s central bank, said that “the contours of an agreement are now clear”. But the climbers are still short of the summit.

The committee had proposed restricting the use of banks’ internal models for calculating risk-weighted assets—which in turn help determine how much capital banks must have at hand. Models varied too much, it said; low risk-weights were flattering some banks’ ratios. But European bankers and officials had complained for months that the proposals would penalise banks that have lots of (low-risk) corporate loans or mortgages (eg, in Germany or Sweden). They sniffed an American plot: American banks, holding fewer such assets, would be untouched.

Mr Ingves gave few details, but said that the new set-up would “largely retain” internal models, though with minimum values for important parameters (such as the probability of default). A “standardised” approach will replace alternatives based on banks’ models for estimating operational risk (big fines, say, or cyber-security breaches).

Not surprisingly, the thorniest topic…Continue reading

This post was originally published in the Economist.

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Revising bank-capital standards

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