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30 May 2013

A Viable Alternative to Basel III Prudential Capital Rules

Stefano Micossi

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Stefano Micossi argues in this paper that the Basel framework for bank prudential requirements is deeply flawed and that the Basel III revision has failed to correct these flaws, making the system even more complicated, opaque and open to manipulation. In practice, he finds that the present system does not offer regulators and financial markets a reliable capital standard for banks and its divergent implementation in the main jurisdictions of the European Union and the United States has broken the market into special fiefdoms governed by national regulators in response to untoward special interests. The time is ripe to stop tinkering with minor adjustment and revisions in order to rescue the system, because the system cannot be rescued.

In response to the current situation, Micossi calls for abandoning reference to risk-weighted assets calculated by banks with their internal risk management models for the determination of banks’ prudential capital, together with the preoccupation with the asset side of banks in correcting for risk exposure. He suggests that the alternative may be provided by a combination of a straight capital ratio and a properly designed deposit insurance system. It is a logical, complete and much less distortive alternative; it would serve better the cause of financial stability as well as the interest of the banks in clear, transparent and level playing field.     

The author is Director General of Assonime, Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Member of the Board of Directors of CEPS and Member of the Board of Directors of CIR Group.