Assessment of Banking Supervision
This section presents the core principles that form the basis for assessing the effectiveness of banking supervision, explains the assessment methodology, outlines the recent assessment experience, and discusses selected key issues in supervision: new capital adequacy standards (Basel II), bank insolvency procedures, supervision of large and complex financial institutions (LCFIs), consolidated supervision, and unique risks in Islamic banking.
The Basel Core Principles (BCPs) for Effective Banking Supervision, developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), are the key global standard for prudential regulation and supervision of banks. The BCPs provide a benchmark against which the effectiveness of bank supervisory regimes can be assessed. The BCPs consist of a set of five preconditions for a robust financial system and 25 principles governing aspects of supervision (see box 5.1). The 25 core principles cover various aspects of objectives, autonomy, powers, and resources (Core Principle 1); licensing and structure (Core Principles 2-5); prudential regulations and requirements (Core Principles 6-15); methods of ongoing supervision (Core Principles 16-20); information requirements (Core Principle 21); remedial measures and exit policies (formal powers) (Core Principle 22); and cross-border banking (Core Principles 23-25).
The purpose of the BCPs is to strengthen individual banks by ensuring a sound supervisory framework. Assessments of observance of the BCPs help identify areas that need strengthening and that contribute to stability of the financial system (a) directly by improving good supervision and (b) indirectly by promoting a robust financial infrastructure. The BCPs seek to ensure that the supervisor can operate effectively and that banks operate in a safe and sound manner. The BCPs also define the necessary preconditions, including the legal, accounting, and auditing infrastructure; effective market discipline and resolution of problem banks; public safety nets; and sound macroeconomic frameworks that should be in place for effective supervision. The BCP assessments provide useful qualitative information on the risk environment, on the responsiveness of the supervisor, and on the overall effectiveness of risk management.
The BCPs highlight a set of prerequisites relating to regulatory governance and spell out principles and criteria to govern sound regulatory practices, a prudent operational framework, and financial integrity in regulated firms (box 5.1). In particular, Core Principle 1 lays down a number of prerequisites to the effective exercise of supervision such as clear and legally determined terms of reference, independence of supervisor, powers to address deficiencies, information sharing, and confidentiality and legal protection of the supervisor. What is needed to define the scope of banking supervision is a definition of banking and a licensing system to ensure that only the best-qualified institutions are
The Basel Core Principles comprise 25 basic principles that need to be in place for a supervisory system to be effective. The core principles (CPs) relate to the following:
• Objectives, Autonomy, Powers, and Resources
– CP 1.1* deals with the definition of responsibilities and objectives for the supervisory agency.
– CP 1.2 deals with skills, resources, and independence of the supervisory agency.
– CP 1.3 deals with the legal framework.
– CP 1.4 deals with enforcement powers.
– CP 1.5 requires adequate legal protection for supervisors.
– CP 1.6 deals with information sharing.
• Licensing and Structure
– CP 2 deals with permissible activities of banks.
– CP 3 deals with licensing criteria and the licensing process.
– CP 4 requires supervisors to review—and have the power to reject—significant transfers of ownership in banks.
– CP 5 requires supervisors to review major acquisitions and investments by banks.
• Prudential Regulations and Requirements
– CP 6 deals with minimum capital adequacy requirements. For internationally active banks, the requirements must not be less stringent than those in the Basel Capital Accord.
– CP 7 deals with the granting and managing of loans and the making of investments.
– CP 8 sets out requirements for evaluating asset quality and the adequacy of loan-loss provisions and reserves.
– CP 9 sets forth rules for identifying and limiting concentrations of exposures to single borrowers or to groups of related borrowers.
– CP 10 sets out rules for lending to connected or related parties.
– CP 11 requires banks to have policies for identifying and managing country and transfer risks.
– CP 12 requires banks to have systems to measure, monitor, and control market risks.
permitted into the market. The public needs to be aware of which financial institutions are banks and that, as banks, they are subject to supervision. Consequently, the use of the word “bank” needs to be limited to licensed institutions. Those issues are dealt with in Core Principles 2 and 3.
The quality and integrity of the bank’s owners and management are crucial elements in longer-term safety and soundness of the bank, and they need to be vetted by the supervisory authorities. Without clear insight into the structure of the group to which a bank belongs and its acquisitions of interests in other companies, supervisors may not be able to adequately monitor the risks. Core Principles 3, 4, and 5 address those questions. Core Principle 6 requires that banks be subject to rules regulating the adequacy of their capital buffer against risks in the asset portfolio, a key requirement for safe and sound banking. Core Principles 7-11 broadly relate to the quality of lending procedures, the adequacy of provisions (without which capital adequacy figures are overstated), the concentration risks, the risks in lending to connected parties against which contract enforcement may be difficult, and the risks in lending abroad. Core Principles 12 and 13 relate to risks with respect to open positions in securities, currencies, and fixed-income instruments. Good internal systems to monitor and manage risks, as required in Core Principle 14, are also of key importance because bank management is primarily responsible for the stability of the institution and needs to be able to rely on its own information and control systems. Core Principles 16-20 relate to the need for the supervisory authority to have reliable and comprehensive information on the operations and financial condition of a bank. Without this information, monitoring and timely corrective action are not possible. Related to this need, but with a broader objective of informing the markets and the public, is the requirement in Core Principle 21 to disclose audited consolidated annual financial statements that are prepared according to internationally acceptable accounting standards. The supervisory authority must have the means to preempt threats to the stability of financial institutions through timely corrective actions, as envisaged in Core Principle 22. The remaining Core Principles 23-25 relate to the effective monitoring of groupwide risks, the creation of an overview of the financial condition of the group as a whole, and the associated cross-border supervisory cooperation.
Transparency of supervisory framework and policies can contribute to effective supervision. Although the transparency of supervision is not explicitly covered in the BCPs, good transparency practices are covered in IMF Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies (IMF 2000). Supervisory policies and their implementation need to be disclosed to the public, for instance, through annual reports of the supervisory agency or through dedicated chapters in central bank annual reports. Web sites of supervisory agencies can be used to disseminate annual reports and other periodicals and can serve as a repository for banking laws and regulations. For additional suggestions and guidance on transparency practices, reference is made to the “Supporting Document” of the IMF Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies (IMF 2000).
Good BCP observance has a clear and positive effect on financial sector stability because it helps to ensure that the risks in the banking system—which, in many countries, is by far the most important component of the financial system—are adequately monitored and that tools are in place to manage the risks. If the BCPs are properly implemented and
if the preconditions are satisfied, then supervisory authorities have the means to remove weak institutions from the market and to preempt more extensive damage to the banking system. Although risks in banking institutions may also arise from macroeconomic and external shocks (e. g., liberalization-induced credit booms or a foreign exchange crisis), good BCP observance can help manage the effect of the shocks by constraining excessive buildup of exposures to risk factors.7
The links between observance of the BCPs and financial development are complex and multifaceted. At one level, the preconditions for observing the BCPs (discussed in section 5.3.2) are also conditions that facilitate financial stability and help to promote financial development. Beyond the preconditions, the observance of best practices of supervision and regulation can also promote strong governance and better risk management, as well as generate more efficient and robust institutions, markets, and infrastructure. In turn, this strengthening of institutions can help promote sustained economic growth. However, the precise mechanism through which this effective operation can occur is far from clear because it also can be the case that developments in the regulatory infrastructure arise in response to financial development. This situation can arise when market participants see that the public good aspects of financial stability outweigh the compliance costs of a stronger regulatory framework so a constituency in favor of a strong regulatory framework emerges.
The key area in supervision that is directly relevant to the ability of banks to contribute to sustainable economic growth relates to implementation of capital adequacy standards and appropriate loan evaluation, as well as provisioning policies and practices. The rules on capital adequacy in a jurisdiction determine the relationship between banks’ capital and their loan and investment portfolios and, therefore, limit the amount of loans and investments banks can make against the amount of regulatory capital they hold. When provisions for losses on assets are not adequate, a bank will overstate its capital and thus its capacity to intermediate funds. When a correction needs to be made, the action will instantly decrease the intermediation function of the institution. If this dynamic occurs on a large scale, for instance, as a result of more widespread banking sector problems in an economy, then the result can be a credit crunch, which can have fiscal consequences related to costs of bank resolution, including deposit protection.
Specific institutional features of the banking system need to be taken into account in applying the BCPs and in designing regulatory policies. For example, increasingly, the presence of LCFIs with significant international operations requires an analysis of crossborder exposures to risks and an integrated management of risks across business lines. In some countries, state-owned commercial banks play an important role in the countries’ financial systems. In many cases, the weak profitability, governance, and efficiency of those institutions become a cause for concern. The factors may not immediately pose a risk to the banking sector insofar as the implicit guarantee of their liabilities serves to maintain confidence, but they can distort incentive structures and can slow down the growth of a viable commercial banking sector with more rigorous risk-management policies. Better risk-management policies with strong underwriting standards also impose discipline on banks’ borrowers to the benefit of the overall quality of the assets portfolio. Also, the balance between the scope of official supervision and the extent of market discipline would vary among countries. The approaches and tools to observe the BCPs
may be strongly influenced by the extent to which the overall policy environment and the supervisory policies themselves tend to harness market forces and bring about good governance of banks. For an analysis of the importance of bank supervisory and regulatory policies that facilitate market discipline, see Barth, Caprio, and Levine (2004). In addition, the appropriate balance between official supervision and market discipline could change over time, depending on the extent of stress in the banking system, which might affect the incentives for risk taking.