Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog

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Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog, A Blog on Financial Markets and Their Regulation. This blog is currently suspended.

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Thu, 19 Dec 2019

New Zealand goes ahead on bank capital

A year ago, I wrote approvingly about New Zealand’s non-Basel-III approach to bank capital:

One of the dangers of international harmonization of financial sector regulation under the auspices of Basel, FSB and G20 has been the risk of a regulatory mono-culture. New Zealand located at the edge of the world and outside the Basel system is providing a good antidote to this.

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced that it was going ahead with its proposal to raise capital requirements substantially. The only concession that it has made is in terms of allowing more instruments to count as capital. The ruthless focus on preventing banking crises is reiterated:

Banking crises cause not only harmful economic costs but also distressful social issues, such as the general decline in mental and physical health brought about by higher rates of unemployment. These effects are felt for generations.

New Zealand’s reliance on foreign banks for almost all of its banking needs is an interesting choice that many other countries could find worthy of emulation. The Global Financial Crisis highlighted one risk with this approach: bank losses elsewhere in the world could lead to a shrinking of bank credit within the country. While it might be tempting to react to this with a greater reliance on domestic banks, New Zealand is suggesting that you can simply protect your economy with higher capital requirements without worrying about the ownership structure.

I am inclined to think that steadily rising capital requirements for banks coupled with ever increasing reliance on deep financial markets may be the best way to manage the risk of financial crises.

Posted at 10:17 on Thu, 19 Dec 2019     View/Post Comments (0)     permanent link