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International Prudential Standards in a World of Growing Nationalism and Protectionism

Mark Zelmer and Jeremy Kronick
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Mark Zelmer: Ciuriak Consulting Inc.

C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, 2018, issue 517

Abstract: With nationalism and protectionism on the rise globally, it may be tempting to conclude that the momentum for international regulatory reform is waning. This Commentary offers some suggestions to maintain the momentum for reform in the face of rising protectionist challenges. As is often the case with cross-border concerns, we in Canada and our counterparts abroad have found that working together to set international standards often delivers socially beneficial outcomes for all of us. At the same time, it is important to be humble about how much can be accomplished by such standards. This is particularly true in the financial services arena. Such standards are harder to agree on and less likely to be useful for services and markets that are more domestic in nature, especially in cases where important institutional features vary significantly across borders. This Commentary begins with a reminder of why international standards are useful. We then explain how such standards can be created and implemented outside of the usual legal processes that govern relations among countries. Against this background, we review how Canada has balanced its specific domestic interests in the banking and insurance arenas with international standards set by bodies of which Canada is a member. We conclude with some thoughts on priorities for these financial-sector standard setters in a world where international cooperation, for the time being, may have receded from its peak. To summarize, our recommendations include the following: • As it becomes more challenging to reach international agreements, international standard setters might want to focus more on working with their member countries, individually or in a group setting, to help them coordinate domestic initiatives. This approach would reduce the risk of local initiatives unintentionally working at cross-purposes with the global financial system, especially in times of stress; • International standard setters should tread cautiously in setting minimum standards and ensure they accommodate differences in domestic institutional settings; • As a result of the first two recommendations, more stringent and transparent public disclosure requirements would be required so that private stakeholders can understand how differences in institutional settings are affecting the measurement and management of risk at financial institutions as well as the calculation of regulatory capital and liquidity ratios; and • Standard setters may want to place more effort on encouraging member countries to fully and consistently implement agreed-upon standards before seeking to introduce new reforms.

Keywords: Financial Services and Regulation; Banking, Credit and Payments; Financial Stability; Globalisation and International Economy; Insurance; Prudential Regulation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F02 F42 G28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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