The Political Economy of Basle II: The Costs for Poor Countries
Stijn Claessens (),
Geoffrey R. D. Underhill and
The World Economy, 2008, vol. 31, issue 3, 313-344
The financial crises of the 1990s triggered many changes to the design of the international financial system. We use the formulation of the new Basle capital accord for banks (B-II) to illustrate that, while much affected, developing countries have had very little influence on this so-called new international financial architecture. We argue that B-II has been formulated largely to serve the interests of powerful market players, with developing countries being left out. At the same time, we demonstrate that B-II is likely to raise the costs and reduce the supply of external financing for developing countries in particular. Furthermore, and importantly, B-II may well increase the pro-cyclicality of external financing, an unfortunate outcome given that developing countries already face much volatility in terms of capital flows. Overall, while B-II may indeed compensate for a range of weaknesses of Basle I, the exclusionary policy process and costs which B-II imposes on developing countries require a re-think of the way in which crucial elements of financial governance, such as the Basle capital accords, are developed and implemented. Copyright 2008 The Authors.
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