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The fantasy of the smooth global regulator 

March 3, 2014
Gillian Tett, Business Spectator

When Jack Lew, US Treasury Secretary, participated in last week’s Group of 20 meetings, he issued a familiar plea: there needs to be more co-ordination over how countries impose financial market regulations and oversee the activities of banks.

He might as well have called on pigs to fly or bankers to become nuns. Since 2008 there have been numerous efforts to harmonise global financial rules. And in some respects progress has been made. Common capital standards have been agreed under the umbrella of Basel III. A global regulatory body, the Financial Stability Board, has been created.

The unpalatable truth that no minister wants to acknowledge, however, is that almost every step towards co-ordination has been offset by a step away from it elsewhere. Just after Lew’s appeal, for example, Deutsche Bank revealed that it would have to reduce its American assets by $100 billion because US regulators are tightening capital rules for foreign banks. The UK has done something similar.

Read more: Business Spectator

 
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