The Evolution of Banking Regulation Since the Financial Crisis: A Critical Assessment
61 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019
Date Written: November 2018
Following the 2008 financial crisis a major process of regulatory reform of the banking industry took place with the aim of increasing the resilience of the financial system. More specifically, the regulatory changes introduced after the financial crisis were aimed at pursuing three main objectives: (i) improve the resilience of individual banks, thereby reducing the risk of financial institutions to fail, (ii) improve the resilience of the financial system as a whole, limiting the risk of spillovers to the broader economy that would be triggered by the failure of large financial institutions, and (iii) reduce the risk for taxpayers to bear the cost of future banking crisis. Starting from an exam of the main weaknesses of the banking regulatory framework highlighted by the financial crisis, this paper provides a detailed analysis of the Basel 3 reform, its main goals, timing and technical features. It then examines the more recent revisions of the Basel 3 framework - often called “Basel 4” - and the new requirements associated to bank resolution policies, i.e. the “total loss absorbing capacity” (TLAC) and the “minimum required eligible liabilities” (MREL). These regulatory reforms are then critically discussed, both though the analysis of their impact on the banking industry, and with recourse to the available empirical evidence. This evidence shows that the banking industry did register a significant increase in the amount and quality of equity capital, mostly achieved through capital increases, and in liquidity. This led to a decrease in the probability of future large banks defaults and in the incentive for banks to take on excessive risks. Also, by introducing bail in mechanisms for banks’ liabilities, these reforms reduced the likelihood of future crisis being supported by taxpayers via government bail outs. However, a number of threats are still being faced by the banking industry. These include profitability, a necessary condition for a bank to be sustainable over time, the sovereign-banks “doom loop”, and the possibility of future recessions, as banks’ safety and soundness is inevitably linked to the state of the economy.
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