Financial regulation shake-up still needed in wake of subprime crisis


Financial regulation shake-up still needed in wake of subprime crisis

PARIS - The global financial crisis may have sparked calls for markets and governments to be more tightly regulated, but a year after the credit crunch hit reforms are still a long way off, analysts said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 10 Aug 2008, 3:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:51 AM

The reforms would largely target investment banks, which are accused of indiscriminately approving risky loans, then buying or selling financial products linked to these loans, leading to the US subprime market collapse.

Credit rating agencies have also been criticised for contributing to world financial turmoil by not sounding the alarm.

In April, finance ministers of the G7 nations approved a series of recommendations from the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) to improve the practices of banks and financial markets.

But the recommendations, which aim to improve good practice and transparency without restricting behaviour, have yet to be executed.

In July, the European Commission also put forward similar measures to supervise credit rating agencies.

"Governments needed to show that they were doing something," said Andrew Haynes, who teaches international banking law at Wolverhampton University in central England, in an interview with AFP.

Another ambitious plan, proposed in March by the US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, to overhaul the US regulatory system and strengthen the US Federal Reserve's monitoring role has also stalled.

"Nothing will happen until the presidential election", said Patricia McCoy, a professor of law, banking and securities regulation at the Connecticut University.

When George W. Bush's successor was elected, McCoy said she expected "a big, big fight" because "the agencies and investment banks are going to resist" any significant regulation.

But there are other complications. Despite announcing operational changes to boost transparency and the spread of information, the three main credit rating agencies, Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, will still be paid by the companies they rate.

A further weak set of proposals put forward in June by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the official regulator for the agencies, is also making little impact.

At the same time, investment banks and credit rating agencies have little to fear from the creation of a new international Committee on Banking Supervision suggested by G7 members which would group regulators from different countries.

"It makes sense to have greater cooperation but I don't think we're ready to have one global super-regulator", said McCoy.

Andrew Haynes, however, said market pressures had already forced investment banks, credit rating agencies and investors to re-evaluate their approach to risk.

"I suspect it would take longer than ten years for people to go back to that level of risk," he said.

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