The Global Implementation of Basel II: Prospects and Outstanding Problems
Jerome Levy Economics Institute, Bard College
October 1, 2006
Basel II may lead to far-reaching changes in the regulation and supervision of banks, risk management, and other aspects of banking practice; these changes may well be considered as one of the most important elements of the global financial system. This paper reviews prospects for the implementation of Basel II, risks due to the changes involved, and features which may affect international trade in banking services. The discussion on prospects summarizes data in a survey conducted by the Basel-based Financial Stability Institute (FSI) of supervisors in countries, which do not belong to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). More than 90 countries participating in this survey have decided that they will implement Basel II, although the challenge to supervisors will be great as nearly a quarter of them to upgrade their skills. The discussion also covers other less systematic information, related to the implementation in member, as well as non-member countries of the BCBS, such as surveys of banks in developed countries and the impact of Basel II on capital requirements in the EU. Additional problems for implementation may result from disagreements between supervisory authorities in different countries as to the way in which Basel II should be implemented for banks with cross-border
Basel II may prove a source of macroeconomic risks in many emerging-market countries owing to changes following its adoption in lender-borrower relations and in the way in which banks are supervised. Basel II incorporates the fundamental assumption that the relationship between a bank and its counter-parties is conducted at arms-length. A different model of borrower-lender relations in many emerging-market countries, especially in parts of Asia, has involved practices such as policy or directed lending, relationship or name lending and collateral-based lending. In this model, loans are made on the basis of criteria different from those underlying Basel II and often resemble equity investments. Too rapid a change to the new model of banking practice of Basel II could undermine an economy's credit mechanism and could have adverse knock-on macroeconomic consequences.
Basel II coincides with the financial services negotiations, which form part of the WTO Doha round. The paper reviews somewhat inconclusive evidence on the relation between foreign banks' presence in selected emerging-market countries and prospects for implementation. Nevertheless, Basel II's effects on banks' costs via its rules for both overall regulatory capital and different categories of exposure will be a significant influence on the economic opportunities of foreign banks, and are thus likely to influence negotiating positions in the WTO.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: financial system, emerging-market countries, Basel II
JEL Classification: G2, P5, F4working papers series
Date posted: October 5, 2008 ; Last revised: October 10, 2008
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