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OECD Journal: Financial Market Trends

The articles in Financial Market Trends focus on trends, structural issues and developments in financial markets and the financial sector.

English

Banking in a challenging environment

Business models, ethics and approaches towards risks

The current crisis with its on-going banking sector problems has brought to the fore various cases of financial fraud and banking scandals that have additionally undermined the already low confidence in the sector. This has raised concerns about structural flaws in the way banks operate and are being regulated and supervised. Restoring investor confidence may require new approaches to redesign the incentives, rules and regulations for the financial sector. This was the backdrop for the discussions at the October 2012 OECD Financial Roundtable that this article summarises. Topics covered the current outlook and risks for banks as well as banking business models, ethics and approaches towards risks. Participants pointed out that, while downsizing and adjusting their business models, banks had already made improvements in their risk management. At the same time, the now observed renationalisation of assets could worsen the situation particularly in the European periphery. This could be attenuated by a European Banking Union that would also help to break the detrimental link between banks and sovereigns. As banks are deleveraging, non-banks are substituting for part of the reduced bank lending, but to do so would need regulatory support – while the shadow banking sector more generally will come under closer regulatory and supervisory scrutiny. Consumer groups in particular regard financial consumer protection as important to help improve the social value of financial activities that had often been unproductive, if not destructive. Bank representatives opposed regulatory separation of bank business on the grounds that it is insufficient to address problems of risk taking and control. Finally, it was pointed out that regulatory reforms need to be targeted and harness market forces by balancing penalties and rewards. Governance of regulation should also be enhanced, and regulation should be proactive and be complemented by strong macro and micro-supervision. Co-ordinating reforms should ensure a level playing field, but a one-size-fits-all approach should be avoided.

English

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