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spinning the financial crisis October 30, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

According to the Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, Chris Gibson-Smith, the occupy movement should not be focusing its critique on financial institutions but on the governments which didn’t regulate the financial institutions properly:

There are unintended consequences of free markets … It’s not capitalism that has been the problem, but irresponsible governments and politicians who have allowed the financial system to explode by permitting the build-up of ludicrous amounts of debt and leverage.

Why did these irresponsible governments allow this? Because financial institutions told them too much regulation would interfere with their ability to compete with institutions based in other jurisdictions. And this is still going on. See, for example, this week’s news that Cameron is determined to protect the City of London from harmful European regulation.

transparency about transparency October 25, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

Announcing new proposed rules about transparency, Michel Barnier and Andris Piebalgs stated:

These new measures will improve sustainable business among multinationals active in the oil, gas, mining or logging sectors. It will play a groundbreaking role in the better management of natural resources and in the increase of domestic fiscal resources available to provide basic social services to the citizens. This new legislation will be a strong contribution to the Agenda for Change of European Development policy which aims at equipping Developing countries with the tools to foster sustainable and inclusive growth.
Today, the Commission establishes itself as an avant-garde in promoting transparency and goes well beyond the US Dodd-Frank act, putting the interests of developing countries at the forefront of this European domestic legislation. This will help to achieve a new step in the quality of our relations with Africa, based on mutual accountability and transparency.

Strange euro-English (establishes itself as an avant-garde). Moreover, the proposal for the directive does not seem to claim to be going well beyond Dodd-Frank (see, e.g., the SEC’s proposal for implementation):

This proposal is comparable to the US Dodd-Frank Act, which was adopted in July 2010, and requires extractive industry companies (oil, gas and mining companies) registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission governments on a country- and project-specific basis. The SEC’s implementing rules are scheduled to be adopted by the end of 2011.

The Extractive Industries Working Group has suggested that there is a risk that the implementation of the US rules will allow for failure to report. But it’s not obvious that the EU’s rules will be more effective.

Later: The EU FAQ explains that the EU rules are to apply to logging as well as to oil gas and mining and that “the EU rules would apply to large unlisted companies, as well as listed companies, whereas the US rules are restricted to listed extractive companies only”. In fact the US disclosure requirements will not just apply to listed companies but apply to public companies registered under the Exchange Act.

more governmental opacity October 20, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

Announcing a new steering group which is to develop a suite of ‘simple’ financial products, the UK Treasury published a summary document describing responses to its simple financial products consultation. Here’s what the document says about its presentation of responses:

The Government received 75 responses to the consultation from a wide range of organisations and individuals … In addition, three workshops were held with representatives from consumer groups, banks, building societies, insurers, cooperatives, think tanks, regulators, and independent commentators, to discuss the issues in depth. This document summarises formal responses to the consultation but does not seek to capture all of the points raised through the informal process, which, in addition to workshops, included numerous bilateral discussions and participation by officials in seminars and conferences. These events and discussions have assisted in the interpretation of formal responses and in formulating next steps for the simple products development process… While a number of themes emerged, there was no strong consensus among representatives of particular industries or sectors; nor were there clear consistent views from consumer groups and trade associations. Responses are therefore reported at a general level to avoid mischaracterising the response of any one sector or group of stakeholders.

To avoid mischaracterising responses or to avoid being seen to be mischaracterising responses?

basel iii October 19, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

In contrast to the FSB’s peer reviews the Basel Committee’s review of implementation of Basel II and III published this week does contain some information about methodology. But the description illustrates that the focus on implementation is about formal implementation rather than implementation in substance:

In this report, the following classification is used to classify the status of adoption of regulatory rules:
1. Draft regulation not published: this status corresponds to cases where no draft law, regulation, or other official document has been made public to detail the planned content of the domestic regulatory rules. This status includes cases where a jurisdiction has communicated high-level information about its implementation plans but not detailed rules.
2. Draft regulation published: this status corresponds to cases where a draft law, regulation or other official document is already publicly available, for example for public consultation or legislative deliberations. The content of the document has to be specific enough to be implemented when adopted.
3. Final rule published: this status corresponds to cases where the domestic legal or regulatory framework has been finalised and approved but is still not applicable to banks.
4. Final rule in force: This status corresponds to cases where the domestic legal and regulatory framework is already applied to banks.

peer review and transnational financial regulation October 17, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

How meaningful are peer reviews as a mechanism of ensuring that states comply with transnational standards of financial regulation? In April 2009 responding to the financial crisis the G20 countries announced that they would monitor compliance with international standards. Members of the Financial Stability Board committed to:

undergo periodic peer reviews, using among other evidence IMF/World Bank public Financial Sector Assessment Program reports

This doesn’t sound too bad – IMF members produce regular reports on their financial systems, so there is some information available anyway that the FSB can use as the basis for peer reviews. But there are some huge time lags – the peer review of Australia published in September 2011 states that:

The analysis and conclusions of the peer review are largely based on the Australian financial authorities’ responses to a questionnaire designed to gather information about the initiatives undertaken in response to the relevant FSAP recommendations.

The footnote cites to the IMF’s FSAP assessment of Australia dated October 2006. What faith can one put in a peer review that is “largely based” on data over 5 years old (the FSAP assessments are themselves produced long after the missions on which they are based)? In fact the peer review contains a lot of information dated after October 2006. So what then to make of the “largely based” language? There’s a lack of transparency here with respect to the methodology used to create the peer reviews, although they are piggy-backing on the FSAP which has been established for some time and subjected to reviews by the Independent Evaluation bodies of the IMF and the World Bank the FSB work on the peer reviews is new and not clearly explained. The FSB provides a list of the members of the committee responsible for standards implementation but no details about their working methods. So it isn’t obvious how meaningful these documents actually are.

a round-heeled woman: from coral gables to london October 17, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : events , add a comment

I saw Sharon Gless in this play earlier this year at GableStage. Tomorrow the play opens at the Riverside Studios in London. It’s worth seeing.