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The outbreaks of the financial crisis, its duration, and its repercussions have revealed the shortcomings of the financial system’s monitoring tools. This second issue of the Revue d’économie financière devoted to systemic risk makes its contribution to the current debate on this topic. It begins by raising the question of the field of application for monitoring and whether it should be broadened to include players who are not part of it. It then argues for a better assessment of financial risk. Finally, it analyzes the tools that should be put into place, both on the national and international level, in order to reinforce the preventive aspect of monitoring, particularly by implementing macroprudential policies.
After reading the REF’s two issues devoted to systemic risk, it will be noted that significant progress has been made in relation to the situation before the crisis. Has this been sufficient? Misgivings cannot be brushed aside and we will probably experience new financial crises. We can wager that their consequences will be less important.
Besides this main subject, issue 101 offers two articles on particular aspects of economics or finance (how the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was perceived in the United States and how emerging countries are calling into question financial integration following the crisis).
publication : March 2011 218 pages
Following the financial crisis, most reforms have been mainly focused on the prudential dimensions. The author highlights that the scope of the rules and of the supervision remains a pending question and that both between European countries and between the EU and the US, the differences are huge. This matter of fact is an obstacle to the efficient development of the financial markets and to the financial stability. Hence, the author advocates for a large widening of the scope of the financial regulation in order to avoid an uncontrolled growth of the shadow banking system.
The collapse of the US monoliners and the rescue of AIG by the US government may have given the impression that we would have finally had the proof of the systemic nature of insurance. This conclusion relies on a twin misleading argumentation: should insurance be a victim of a systemic crisis does not allow us to conclude that it is systemic; if an insurer is at the epicentre of a systemic shock, because of its banking or quasi-banking activities, does not allow us to conclude that insurance operations are systemic. As demonstrated in this article, insurance operations are not, by nature, systemic. That does not mean that the failure of a big insurer would not constitute a big economic shock, as would the default of a carmaker or of whatever big company. This observation has important consequences for the design of an optimal insurance supervision and of its articulation with banking supervision. Of course, a significant financial shock does not constitute, per se, a systemic risk and one should not substitute one for the other, especially with regard to prudential supervision.
The financial market turmoil has demonstrated the importance of OTC derivatives markets for financial stability. In particular, the crisis has exposed weaknesses in OTC markets that had contributed to the build-up of systemic risk. Therefore, the G20 has called for reforms, promoting especially the establishment of central counterparties (CCPs). This article documents the importance of CCPs for systemic stability and highlights the need for strengthening its resilience. In this regard, we review various options for CCPs to access central bank facilities. We conclude that when designing the framework of services and instruments that a central bank may choose to offer to CCPs, it will have to consider a wide range of aspects, including financial stability considerations and its implications for monetary policy.
This article identifies and analyzes the various benefits and drawbacks that the adoption of a central counterparty [CCP] for OTC markets can induce, notably in terms of counterparty, systemic, transparency and liquidity risks management. First, we look at how the transaction costs are affected by the introduction of this risk pooling entity. The implications of the presence of a CCP on the liquidity and market transparency are then analyzed. Finally, we discuss the various risks faced by the CCP (concentration risk, information asymmetry, moral hazard and adverse selection) and bring out some recommendations regarding the functioning and access to the CCP terms.
Credit rating agencies (CRAs) are under scrutiny for failing to both anticipate financial crises since the late 1990s and manage their conflicts of interests when assigning ratings to structured products. This article presents an overview of the past and present reforms regarding the credit rating industry. It also makes proposals for regulatory reform. Five areas are worth examining: i) the reliance on CRA ratings in standards, laws and regulations, ii) the competition in the credit rating industry, iii) the conflicts of interests, iv) the controls over the rating methodologies and the rating process, and v) the civil liability of CRAs.
This article considers that alternatives to the use of credit ratings in financial regulations are possible in the sovereign rating area. It recommends a tighter supervision of structured products ratings and proposes a new regulatory framework to prevent conflicts of interests. It concludes that CRA ratings cannot be a substitute for institutional investors’ due diligence.
Hedge funds aim to provide absolute returns. This purpose implies taking positions in complex financial markets that are sensitive to extreme losses. They are thus sources of systemic risk. In addition, a set of factors induce that hedge funds disseminate systemic risk. They indeed combine a large network of counterparts exposed to their losses with an absence of liquidity in time of market downturn, which lead to distressed sales.
Supervision of the financial system must take into consideration the effects of management tools and in particular the ones representing risk. Real machinery of the professional finance, management tools have several and simultaneous effects: organizational (control procedures), institutional (international regulatory standards), technical (valuation methods) and cognitive (the way of thinking uncertainty in order to shield oneself against it). The shaping of the financial activities by the technical and mental tools is called performation. It is of the highest importance to have a better understanding of the role of this performation in the 2007-2008 financial crisis to get protected against future crises.
The financial crisis has revealed the necessary reform of the Basel II framework without challenging any of its core principles. More than ever, banks need to improve how they measure, manage and cover their risks. The new rules adopted within the framework of Basel III are structured along the following main lines: improving the quality and the level of the own funds, improving how risks related to market and securitization operations are covered, and implementing a framework to measure and manage liquidity risk. The Basel Committee also has decided to test leverage and has considered how to reduce the cyclicality of financial activities and the systemic risk.
The Basel III package represents a very substantial set of reforms to the prudential rules. The materialisation of the efforts made to define it will depend in part on the willingness of all countries to implement the reforms in a consistent fashion. It is therefore important that the frameworks for European and international supervisory cooperation ensure the consistency of both macro-prudential and micro-prudential supervision towards financial institutions and between countries, in order to construct the stable and sound financial system of the forthcoming years.
Financial markets play a central role in the financing of banks. Indeed, the evolution in the structure of savings increased the dependency of the banking system upon resources collected from other financial institutions. The 2007/2008 liquidity crisis has underlined the fragility of this setting and the threats of excessive leverage. The current reform of the regulatory framework (Basel III), by seeking to promote the financial system’s stability, imposes new constraints on the transformation function fulfilled by banks. Yet, a bank is an institution which realizes a fragile and complex equilibrium between liquidity production and long term financing of agents who have no alternative to bank financing. This article, after having presented the specificity of production in banking, analyses the potential effects of the ongoing reforms on this equilibrium and the ability of banks to finance the economy.
The liquidity crisis that occurred in 2008 brought the world banking system near collapse. Therefore central banks had to step urgently and massively in the money market in order to supply banks with liquidities and they were constrained to buy assets of dubious quality. Dominique Hoenn considers that the ongoing reforms of the banking system will not be sufficient to prevent the occurrence of another financial crisis with its economic consequences. To avoid such a situation, he recommends that commercial banks and central banks set up a list of assets that would be eligible to the refinance the banks in order to secure a sound financing of the economies. This would have to be done once the current crisis is over.
There is now a broad consensus in the policy community that strengthening the macroprudential orientation of regulatory and supervisory frameworks is essential for the promotion of financial stability. The window of opportunity to put in place fully fledged macroprudential frameworks should not be missed. Meeting this challenge calls for a finely balanced blend of boldness and realism. Boldness is required to face the hard design questions head-on; realism to avoid overreach and to manage expectations. Policymakers should be as ambitious as possible, but no more. In all this, research has an important role to play in allowing the framework to grow at a pace commensurate with our knowledge. The article considers how to strike the balance between boldness and realism in several aspects of the framework: in the criterion for judging its success; in how closely systemic risk should be tracked; in the mix between an aggregate and a sectoral approach; in that between rules and discretion; and in governance arrangements. It also highlights some key questions for research.
The need to complement the microprudential supervision with a more structured macroprudential oversight aiming at controlling systemic risk is a lesson drawn from the crisis. At the EU level, this has led to the set up of a European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) in which both the ECB and the national central banks will be deeply involved. Jointly with the three ESA (European Supervisory Authorities), the ERSB will be a major part of the European System of Financial Supervisors (ESFS). Given the current tensions in the financial markets, it is of the highest importance that the ESRB should be able to establish very quickly its credibility and reputation in the EU but also at the international level in its future relations with the American FSOC and the IMF.
Both the EU and the USA have set up Systemic Risk Councils in order to prevent and avoid major troubles and the potential collapse of the financial system. Macroprudential policies are to be implemented by the central banks which are the very institutions able to cope with the task of stabilizing the financial system. What is needed is to implement a widened monetary policy in order to smoothen the financial cycle and to provide the conditions of the liquidity of the market. New accounting rules based on the marked-to-funding principles will help to secure this liquidity.
The enhanced coordination proposal put forward by the IMF is a pragmatic approach to address the cross-border resolution challenges in a manner that is achievable in the near future. The approach would form the basis for incremental progress being made as more and more countries voluntarily adhere to the framework over time. The “carrot” that would encourage countries to do so would be the possibility of a more effective and value-preserving international resolution. In the near term, a limited group of countries that already meet the standards could begin to cooperate amongst themselves. To the extent that these countries include the world’s principal financial centers, such cooperation would represent a major step forward. As other countries (e.g., developing countries and emerging markets) adhere to the standards over time, the circle of cooperation would expand. It would therefore represent a pragmatic and achievable mechanism for the strengthening of international cooperation worldwide.
This article advocates for a selective approach of the various instruments currently under scrutiny by the international financial community for the prevention, treatment and resolution of systemic banking crises. With the objective of providing banking supervisors with a broad and powerful instrument which, at the same time, would not unnecessarily impede banking activities, Jean-François Lepetit and Thierry Dissaux recommend that resolution authorities use primarily “statutory bail in”, limited to credit institutions’ senior debt, for high-loss absorbency purposes.
Besides this, they insist on the need for a global approach of all measures presently contemplated to prevent and handle systemic risks. They also underline that France should quickly put in place the instruments that will allow an early identification of systemic risks and systemic activities going forward.
This article examines the emergence and evolution of the “Too-Big-To-Fail” (TBTF) doctrine based on various case studies, identifying moral hazard as the cause for externalities. It examines the role of TBTF within the recent financial crisis with regard to its contribution to and appearance in the crisis. In drawing lessons from the current crisis, a broader concept of systemic relevance is developed building on bank characteristics beyond sheer size. Referred to as “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” by the Financial Stability Board, it is argued that these banks should be regulated rather than downsized or broken up considering the advantages of having large diversified global banks. The article evaluates FSB’s proposed regulatory measures, including capital surcharges, resolution regimes, enhanced supervision and improved core financial infrastructure, and identifies resolution regimes as the most efficient mechanisms to counter TBTF. If designed appropriately, such resolution regimes could convert TBTF into TBDF, or “Too Big for Disorderly Failure”. Finally, the article warns that in reaching a new equilibrium in the financial system, unintended consequences such as concentration, competitive distortion and regulatory arbitrage have to be taken into account.
The spectacular failure of the 150-year old investment bank Lehman Brothers has been perceived by many as a major turning point in the global financial crisis that broke out in the summer 2007. The specter of systemic risk raised fears of a full-scale collapse of the US financial sector due to financial contagion and concerns about significant disturbances outside the US, in international financial markets. Through the use of stock market data, this article examines the investors’ reaction to Lehman Brothers collapse in an attempt to identify a contagion effect on the surviving financial institutions. The empirical analysis indicates that (i) the collateral damages were limited to the largest financial firms; (ii) the most affected institutions were the surviving “non-bank” financial services firms (mortgage and specialty finance, investment services, and diversified financial services firms); (iii) the negative effect was strongly correlated with financial conditions of the surviving institutions.
Since 2009, many emerging economies have started to implement capital control measures, a trend which breaks with the financial globalization dynamics that has marked emerging markets since the beginning of the 1990’s. In this article, we first expose the theoretical framework of strategies of integration in financial globalization and the way the financial crisis, which started in the US and in Europe in 2007, has put into question this framework. Then, we analyze the way some emerging markets authorities limit financial integration, the various tools they use corresponding to different needs. The overall efficiency of these measures is difficult to assess. This wave of capital control can be interpreted as a pragmatic approach and the end of an ideology that systematically promotes the opening of financial markets. It also illustrates a deeper trend: in order to protect themselves from the financial crisis and its aftermath, emerging countries may be tempted to adopt non cooperative solutions.