The Great Debate UK
from Felix Salmon:
I very much hope that Die Zeit is right about the Basel III capital requirements: the numbers being mooted there are definitely at the top end of what anybody expected.
They start with a bare minimum Tier 1 capital requirement of 6%; that's a substantial increase of 50% over the 4% minimum that holds right now. And then they get tougher. There's also a 3% conservation buffer: essentially, if your Tier 1 capital is less than 9%, you're constrained in what you can do; certainly you can't pay out dividends to shareholders. On top of that, the countercyclical capital buffer is being set at another 3%, which means that in good times, healthy banks wanting to pay dividends will need Tier 1 capital of 12%.
Ah, you say, but can't they just be clever with definitions, including all manner of dodgy-looking assets as part of their Tier 1 capital? Well, yes. So there's a parallel set of requirements for what they're calling Core Tier 1: essentially, pure equity. That has a minimum of 5%, plus a conservation buffer of 2.5%, plus a countercyclical capital buffer of another 2.5%.
And there are Tier 2 requirements too. Many of us grew up with the simple rule that Tier 1 capital had to be 4% and Tier 1 plus Tier 2 had to be 8%; the new proposal is a bit more complicated, but you can still add 4% onto whatever Tier 1 number you're looking at to look at the new requirement for Tier 1 plus Tier 2.
from Felix Salmon:
It's looking as though the FT was, thankfully, a little over-hasty when it led today with a big story saying that the banks have won the Basel battle over liquidity requirements. A BIS spokesman (the BIS is the organization hosting the Basel III negotiations) says that weakening liquidity requirements hasn't even been discussed, let alone agreed to. Yes, it's likely that the banks will win some concessions at some point, but there's a long way to go before then.
Joel Clark is hearing similar messages:
Senior committee members have told Risk they were shocked to see reports suggesting the proposal for a net stable funding ratio (NSFR) would be shelved, as they don't intend to make any firm plans until the next Basel Committee meeting on July 15 at the earliest...