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Global regulators seal final post-crisis banking rules

By AFP
media President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi said the so-called "Basel III" reforms will improve confidence in banking systems AFP/File

Regulators from around the world polished off the final set of new regulations for banks in Frankfurt on Thursday, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision said in a statement, closing a saga begun at the height of the financial crisis.

Completing the so-called "Basel III" reforms "represents a major milestone that will make the capital framework more robust and improve confidence in banking systems," European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said after the meeting, which brought together regulators and central banks from 28 countries, including major advanced economies like the United States and the European Union as well as emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil.

The committee -- named after its headquarters at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland -- agreed a final set of rules to complete a new round of bank regulation begun in mid-2010.

They include compromises on how regulators treat the risks banks run from their lending business, from financial market activities and from "operational risks" ranging from human error to acts of God.

In particular, the deal puts an end to EU-US wrangling over how to calculate the amount of capital banks must keep on hand to weather financial shocks.

Banks' use of their own internal models rather than the standard calculations used by regulators had led to "imprudently low levels of capital" at some lenders in the past, Draghi said.

He added that a "key policy lever" of Thursday's agreement was a rule that banks' judgement of their own capital requirements cannot vary too far from the regulator's view.

And the committee also pushed back deadlines, giving lawmakers time to implement the new global rules and banks time to prepare for their application.

In theory, the agreement is only a recommendation with no legally binding effect on the participating countries.

But states generally follow their financial experts' lead by passing the deals into law.

"Now that the Basel III regulatory reform agenda is complete, we must focus on the important task of ensuring the standards are implemented consistently around the world," Basel Committee chairman and Swedish central bank chief Stefan Ingves said, a task Draghi added would be "equally difficult" to achieving the hard-fought compromises.

Most of the changes are expected to only take effect from 2022.

"It is now essential that all major jurisdictions implement all elements of this agreement," European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement.

 
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