Vulnerabilities and surveillance of the international financial system
The International Banking and Finance Institute (IBFI) organised its fifth international monetary seminar from 12 to 16 May 2003 on the topic “Vulnerabilities and surveillance of the international financial system”. This seminar brought together 43 participants from the central banks of industrialised and emerging countries as well as from international institutions (BIS, IMF, OECD, FSF, etc.), and around 30 speakers from various central banks, international bodies and the private sector. The first two days were devoted to: – providing an overview of developments in the international environment, markets and the financial system including the insurance sector, which gave rise to a speech by a director at the French Insurance Association; – analysing the vulnerabilities of the banking and financial system, in particular those stemming from changes in market techniques and market participants’ behaviour; – analysing accounting and prudential issues arising from the implementation of the future interna tional solvency ratio and the introduction of the new international financial reporting standards; – examining current ideas on resolving international financial crises, with particular focus on the approach proposed by the Banque de France with a view to fostering a “Code of conduct” for the voluntary renegotiation between sovereign issuers and creditors, as well as the IMF’s point of view on the restructuring of sovereign debt, put forward by Anne Krueger, deputy managing director of the IMF, in a video-conference transmitted live from Washington 1. In the two days that followed, there ensued lively debate between the participants, who formed two workshops: one on the interactions between financial markets and monetary policy, and the other on the provisions of the New Basel Accord and the financial reporting standards and their impact on economic cycles 2. The first workshop was mainly organised around three topics: – central bank communication, in the areas of monetary policy, foreign exchange and financial stability; – methods of identifying vulnerabilities in financial systems; – links between price stability and financial stability. The second workshop focused on three issues: – the new financial reporting standards put forward by the International Accounting Standard Board and their implications for credit institutions, in particular with respect to the principle of prudence and the need to avoid introducing artificial volatility into accounts; – the future solvency ratio applicable to credit institutions as defined in the New Basel Capital Accord; – the convergence or divergence between financial reporting and prudential standards. Although focusing on seemingly different issues, the rich and fruitful discussions that were held throughout the workshops revealed a broad community of views on financial stability issues underlying the two topics examined. Moreover, a dinner-discussion was organised by Pr Avinash Persaud, holder of the Chair in Commerce at Gresham College, on the risks of financial instability arising from the standardisation of asset allocation approaches, herd behaviours and the blind use of portfolio risk management techniques. Discussions ended with a round table debate, introduced by Governor Trichet and chaired by Mr Marc-Olivier Strauss-Kahn, Director General – Directorate General Economics and International Relations. Five speakers discussed the topic of “transparency and market discipline”: – Mr Flemming Larsen, Director of the IMF’s European Offices; – Mr William Witherell, Director of Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs, OECD; – Mr Michel Prada, former chairman of the COB and of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) 3; – Mr Jan Brockmeijer, Deputy Executive Director for Supervision, Nederlandsche Bank; – and Mr Svein Andresen, Secretary General of the FSF, who summed up the discussions. Mr Flemming Larsen discussed the issue of transparency in emerging economies in the light of the international financial crises that marked the past decade. In this respect, he stressed the benefits attached to the adoption and the effective implementation by these economies of the international codes and standards promoted by the IMF and the World Bank. These codes and standards cover twelve key areas that would benefit from the application of the principles and standards developed by international bodies in the area of economic governance and financial regulation, and transparency and corporate governance. The IMF reports on the implementation of these codes and standards provide a good means to enhance transparency, market discipline and multilateral surveillance, while helping national authorities to identify priority actions for improving the resilience of their economy. Mr William Witherell discussed the role of corporate governance rules and financial transparency as a means to guaranteeing the integrity and smooth functioning of financial markets. The challenge that now lies ahead for regulators and government authorities is to develop a legal and regulatory framework that fully integrates these requirements in order to rebuild investor confidence and to ensure the effective use of market discipline. As regards the scope of these requirements, he recalled the set of general principles defined in this context by the OECD. These principles are now embodied in the international standards, whose application is recommended by the FSF for industrialised and emerging economies alike. He also stressed the great importance of the rules of governance and internal control in financial institutions given their role in allocating resources, their responsibilities to investors, and their particular exposure to the risks of conflicts of interest owing to the nature of their activities. Mr Michel Prada 4 first recalled the main areas in which regulators were currently working to restore market foundations and improve the functioning of the market: introducing international financial reporting standards, implementing corporate governance principles, organising and supervising auditors, and lastly defining professional standards for the players in charge of interpreting financial information and transmitting it to investors, analysts and rating agencies. He then discussed the challenges arising from the globalisation and increasingly broad scope of markets, underscoring the implications of the risk transfer techniques currently used by intermediaries and the factors underlying the recent excess volatility of asset prices. These developments call for, above and beyond the close co-ordination between the prudential regulation of intermediaries and market regulation, the stepping up of international cooperation between regulators and a better understanding of market mechanisms in order to counter factors of financial instability. Lastly, Mr Jan Brockmeijer discussed Pillar III (market discipline) in the framework of the new capital adequacy regime for banks defined by the Basel Committee. Going hand in hand with the other two Pillars of the New Basel Capital Accord, Pillar III provides for a number of disclosure requirements that enable market participants and prudential authorities to obtain all the necessary parameters to assess risk profiles and the creditworthiness of credit institutions.
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Volume (Year): (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
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