Making Basel Work

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The Financial Times reports that the new Basel III banking standards might get toughened up in a few countries:

Top bankers in the UK, US and Switzerland are braced for their national regulators to impose tougher capital requirements than those required by Sunday’s landmark global agreement, even as investors bid up bank shares on relief that the standards were not more rigorous….Global banks based on Wall Street, in the City and Switzerland fear they will face the toughest rules.

They point to the “Swiss finish” that regulators there have traditionally applied on top of global standards and the UK’s willingness to be tougher on other issues, such as pay. They also said US regulators were likely to consider shorter timetables and may face pressure from Congress to be tougher.

Well, we can hope. And we can hope that these same regulators will toughen up on the risk weighting of assets while they’re at it. At this point I think we can all agree that AAA-rated MBS should probably require a wee bit bigger capital cushion than the same amount of United States treasury bonds, right?

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