September 12, 2010
The US Blandly Likes Basel, But Loves Community Banks Even More
Posted by David Zaring

One of the most irritating things to the rest of the world about Basel II was the way the US implemented it.  It used the revised standards for its investment banks, applied by the SEC.  And the Fed was pretty much imposing it on its very large banks.  But it was unwilling to make small banks ante up for the complex models required by that accord, and planned to leave them in Basel I's plain-as-potatoes risk weighted assets 8% rule (the new rule, even though the magic number is 7%, is stricter, because that 7% looks like it can be stock and cash, rather than, say, US residential mortgage CDOs).

Anyway, the blandly supportive press release issued by the US seems to suggest that it is unwilling to require its thousands of community banks to comply with Basel III - at least immediately.  Really, this doesn't matter much.  The big 20 banks comprise a huge percentage of the banking market, and community banks, though they lobby well, are unlikely to be systemically significant.  But it has grated nonetheless.  The US release, with the relevant language highlighted:

The U.S. federal banking agencies actively supported the efforts of the GHOS and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel Committee) to increase the quality, quantity, and international consistency of capital, to strengthen liquidity standards, to discourage excessive leverage and risk taking, and to reduce procyclicality in regulatory requirements.  The agreement represents a significant step forward in reducing the incidence and severity of future financial crises, providing for a more stable banking system that is less prone to excessive risk-taking, and better able to absorb losses while continuing to perform its essential function of providing credit to creditworthy households and businesses.

Today's agreement represents a significant strengthening in prudential standards for large and internationally active banks.


Administrative Law, Financial Crisis | Bookmark

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