Felix Salmon

Regulatory arbitrage of the day, Citigroup edition

April 19, 2011

Well done to Tracy Alloway for calling it as it is, in a post headlined “Citi’s Basel-dodging, capital-avoiding, accounting switch”. At issue is a pool of $12.7 billion in assets, which is housed at Citi’s “bad bank”, Citi Holdings.

Dodd-Frank vs Basel III

January 20, 2011

When the big financial-overhaul bill was working its way through Congress, Treasury persuaded legislators to avoid passing rules on bank capital or liquidity. Leave all that to Basel, they said, so that there could be a global, unified system. And that’s what happened. But if two huge new systems are passed by two highly complex bureaucracies, there are bound to be conflicts. And Melvyn Westlake has a great story in Global Risk Regulator on one of those conflicts: the role of the ratings agencies.

Is Ireland’s problem a Basel problem?

November 24, 2010

Does the Ireland crisis bespeak a major weakness in the Basel capital-adequacy regime? Simon Nixon thinks so: the fact that investors won’t lend to Bank of Ireland, he says, “highlights a major weakness of the Basel capital rules that European banks operate under.”

Varley’s flexible views on Basel

October 19, 2010

In the UK, it seems, the revolving door from big private banks into a grandee’s public-sector role doesn’t turn quite as smoothly as it does in the U.S. And so sometimes it needs a not-so-gentle shove:

Grading Basel III

October 1, 2010

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth taking a look at Alan Blinder’s WSJ op-ed on Basel III. We’ll get to his conclusions in a minute, but whatever you think of those, he’s done us a great service in clearly laying out the big problems with Basel II that the Basel III needed to address:

The biggest weakness of Basel III

September 15, 2010

I’m unapologetically happy and optimistic about the outcome of the Basel III process, and I haven’t been impressed by most of its critics — until now. In two posts, the first at the Economist and the second at The American Scene, Noah Millman does an excellent job of explaining the biggest weakness with Basel III. Which also happens to be the biggest weakness with Basel II.

The other bits of Basel III

September 14, 2010

All the headlines about Basel III have concentrated on the new core Tier 1 capital requirements — the amount of pure equity and retained earnings that banks are going to have to have going forward. It was banks’ core equity which proved woefully insufficient during the crisis — hardly a surprise, when the Basel II requirement for it was just 2% — and it’s core equity which has seen the biggest beefing up under Basel III, all the way to 7%.

The quiet victory of Basel III

September 14, 2010

With a full news cycle now having been and gone since the Basel III accord was announced, a few things have come into more focus.

Should we worry about the Basel delay?

September 13, 2010

Two of the smartest people I’ve met are coming out this morning with an unexpected (to me, at least) criticism of the Basel III rules.