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The Prudential Regulation of Financial Institutions: Why Regulatory Responses to the Crisis Might Not Prove Sufficient

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  • William R. White

    (OECD)

Abstract

It is now six years since a devastating financial and economic crisis rocked the global economy. Supported strongly by the G20 process, international regulators led by the Financial Stability Board have been working hard ever since to develop new regulatory standards designed to prevent a recurrence of these events. These international standards are intended to provide guidance for the drawing up of national legislation and regulation, and have already had a pervasive influence around the world. This paper surveys recent international developments concerning the prudential regulation of financial institutions: banks, the shadow banking system and insurance companies. It concludes that, while substantial progress has been made, the global economy nevertheless remains vulnerable to possible future financial instability. This possibility reflects three sets of concerns. First, measures taken to manage the crisis to date have actually made the prevention of future crises more difficult. Second, the continuing active debate over virtually every aspect of the new regulatory guidelines indicates that the analytical foundations of what is being proposed remain highly contestable. Third, implementation of the new proposals could suffer from different practices across regions. Looking forward, the financial sector will undoubtedly continue to innovate in response to competitive pressures and in an attempt to circumvent whatever regulations do come into effect. If we view the financial sector as a complex adaptive system, continuous innovation would only be expected. This perspective also provides a number of insights as to how regulators should respond in turn. Not least, it suggests that attempts to reduce complexity would not be misguided and that complex behavior need not necessarily be accompanied by still more complex regulation. Removing impediments to more effective self-discipline and market discipline in the financial sector would also seem recommended. Réglementation prudentielle des institutions financières : Pourquoi les réponses réglementaires à la crise pourraient ne pas suffire Cela fait maintenant six ans que l’économie mondiale a été mise à mal par une terrible crise économique et financière. Avec le soutien appuyé du G20, les instances de réglementation internationales, sous la houlette du Conseil de stabilité financière, s’efforcent depuis lors de mettre au point de nouvelles normes réglementaires destinées à empêcher que de tels événements se reproduisent. L’influence de ces normes internationales, conçues pour guider la conception de législations et de réglementations nationales, se fait déjà sentir partout dans le monde. La présente étude s’intéresse aux évolutions récemment intervenues dans la réglementation prudentielle des institutions financières : banques, système bancaire parallèle et compagnies d’assurances. Ses auteurs concluent que si des progrès considérables ont été accomplis, l’économie mondiale reste néanmoins vulnérable en cas d’éventuelle instabilité financière future. Cette éventualité repose sur trois sources de préoccupation : d’abord, les mesures prises à ce jour pour gérer la crise rendent plus difficile la prévention des crises futures. Ensuite, le débat très vif que continuent à susciter quasiment chacun des aspects des nouveaux principes réglementaires montre que les fondements analytiques sur lesquels reposent les propositions sont loin de faire l’unanimité. Enfin, la diversité des pratiques d’une région à l’autre pourrait nuire à la mise en oeuvre des nouvelles normes proposées. À n’en pas douter, le secteur financier continuera d’innover à l’avenir, en réponse aux pressions concurrentielles et pour tenter de se soustraire à toutes les réglementations entrant en vigueur, quelle qu’en soit la nature. Si l’on considère que le secteur financier est un système évolutif complexe, il s’ensuit qu’il ne peut qu’innover en permanence, et ce point de vue apporte un certain nombre d’éclairages sur la manière dont les instances de réglementation devraient réagir. Surtout, il montre qu’aller dans le sens d’une moins grande complexité serait sans doute judicieux, et qu’un système complexe ne doit pas forcément aller de pair avec une réglementation plus complexe encore. Il serait sans doute également recommandé de lever les obstacles à une plus grande efficacité de l’autoréglementation et de la discipline de marché dans le secteur financier.

Suggested Citation

  • William R. White, 2014. "The Prudential Regulation of Financial Institutions: Why Regulatory Responses to the Crisis Might Not Prove Sufficient," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1108, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1108-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jz6zgzzw8s4-en
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bail out; bank regulation; crise financière; financial crisis; globalisation; mondialisation; réglementation bancaire; sauvetage;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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