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Working paper 2009-29

A systemic approach to financial regulation: a European perspective

Michel Aglietta and Laurence Scialom

Abstract :

The global financial crisis has pinpointed the relevance and the virulence of systemic risk in modern innovative finance. It is grounded in the propensity of credit markets to drift to extremes in close correlation with asset price spikes and slumps. In turn, such a propensity is nurtured by the heuristic behaviour of market participants under severe uncertainty. While plagued by disaster myopia, market participants spread systemic risk. Such adverse conditions have been magnified by financial innovations that have made finance predatory and capable of capturing regulators to annihilate prudential policies. Malfunctioning in finance is so deep and disorders are so widespread that sweeping reforms are the order of the day, if financial stability is viewed as a primary public concern. In this paper we argue that macro prudential policy should be the linchpin of relevant reforms. Being a top-down approach, it impinges both upon monetary policy and micro prudential policy. Central banks should pursue a dual objective of price and financial stability. Bank supervisors should broaden their oversight on a much larger perimeter, encompassing all systematically important institutions. Counter cyclical capital provisions should be required and linked to the control of aggregate credit supply. Leveraged institutions without deposit base should be subject to incentives for a much stricter liquidity management. To stem regulatory capture, prompt corrective action should be enlarged in its scope and adapted to mark-to-market financial intermediaries. Implementing macro prudential policy entails institutional changes. Central banks, bank supervisors and other financial regulators need to work much closer than beforehand, because the spread of systemic risk is not deterred by institutional and geographical frontiers. The changes to make are particularly stringent in Europe, where national parochialism makes the resolution of orderly cross-border bank crisis all but impossible.

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