How the Proposed Basel Guidelines on Rating-Agency Assessments Would Affect Developing Countries
32 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: June 2000
The Basel Committee has proposed linking capital asset requirements for banks to the banks' private sector ratings. Doing so would reduce the capital requirements for banks that lend prudently in high-income countries; the same incentives would not apply in developing countries. Using historical data on sovereign and individual borrowers, Ferri, Liu, and Majnoni assess the potential impact on non-high-income countries of linking capital asset requirements for banks to private sector ratings, as the Basel Committee has proposed.
They show that linking banks' capital asset requirements to external ratings would have undesirable effects for developing countries. First, ratings of banks and corporations in developing countries are less common, so capital asset requirements would be practically insensitive to improvements in the quality of assets - widening the gap between banks of equal financial strength in higher- and lower-income countries.
Second, bank and corporate ratings in developing countries (unlike their counterparts in high-income countries) are strongly linked to the sovereign ratings for the country - and appear to be strongly related (asymmetrically) to changes in the sovereign ratings. A sovereign downgrading would bring greater changes in capital allocations than an upgrading, and would call for larger capital requirements at the very time access to capital markets was more difficult.
Under the new guidelines, capital requirements in developing countries would thus be exposed to the cyclical swings associated with the revision of sovereign ratings in recent crises.
Ultimately, linking banks' capital asset requirements to private sector ratings would reduce the credit available to non-high-income countries and make it more costly, limiting economic activity. Bank capital needs in developing countries would be more volatile than those in high-income countries.
These findings suggest that the Basel Committee should reassess the role it proposes assigning to external ratings, to minimize the detrimental impact of the regulatory use of such ratings on developing countries. This paper - a product of the Financial Sector Strategy and Policy Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to study the impact of financial regulation on economic development. The authors may be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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