Banking on Reform: Can Volcker, Vickers and Liikanen Resolve the Too-Important-to-Fail Conundrum?

by José Viñals and Ceyla Pazarbasioglu

The global regulatory landscape governing banks has changed from its pre-crisis status quo.

In addition to the Group of Twenty advanced and emerging economies led global regulatory reforms, like Basel III, the United States and the United Kingdom have decided to directly impose limits on the scope of banks' businesses. The European Union is contemplating a similar move.

We discussed these structural banking reforms a few weeks ago with officials from finance ministries, central banks, and supervisory authorities from around the world during the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings. The design and implementation of these measures will have implications for global financial stability and sustainable growth, so we wanted to bring people together for the first global debate of the issue with G20 and other countries.

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Lively Debate on the Dead Sea Shores

One of my biggest (and heartening) takeaways was that there were more young people bubbling with ideas and entrepreneurial spirit (ready to take risk) than ever before at this regional forum—which reflects a growing recognition of their current role in the Arab Spring and the role they will have to play in the future as drivers of economic change.

Growing Pains: Europe’s Dilemma

By Bas Bakker

(Versions in Español and Français )

As the crisis in Europe deepens, it is worth asking how it all went wrong in the first place. In the past decade there have been stark differences in per capita GDP growth in Europe. Growth rates have ranged from close to zero in Italy and Portugal to more than 4 percent in the best performers. Why do some countries in Europe grow much faster than others? And how can those falling behind catch up before it is too late?

In part, these differences reflect “convergence”. It is much easier for poor countries to grow faster than it is for rich countries because they can import technology they do not already have. It is much more difficult to grow fast if you are already rich and at the technology frontier—now you can only get richer by innovation.

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An Important Starting Point—with One Gap

I had one major source of unhappiness with last week’s conference on macroeconomic policies in the wake of the financial crisis: the participants were largely silent about the dismal outlook in the advanced economies for the next several years. With the exception of that one critical omission, I was impressed by the discussion. One striking feature was the consensus that there is no consensus. The crisis has, appropriately, made macroeconomists and policymakers humble about what we know. There were, however, some specific issues on which there was, if not unanimity, considerable agreement.

Raising Competitiveness: Recipe for Tapping into the Middle East’s Growth Potential

With the global economy on the mend, countries in the Middle East and North Africa are witnessing a pickup in trade and economic growth. But, within the region, the picture is mixed. Indeed, for the region’s oil-importing countries, we are likely to see growth nudge up from 4½ percent in 2009 to around 5 percent this year. However, that is well below the growth rate required to create the 18 million jobs needed over the next decade. For these countries, greater competitiveness will be the crucial ingredient to boosting economic growth and employment. In this blog post, Masood Ahmed explores what we mean by ‘competitiveness’ and what are the policy actions governments need to take to raise it.

It’s Hip to Be Square—Why Good Financial Sector Supervision Is Important

As the financial crisis taught us, supervision is incredibly important. Countries with the same set of rules had very different experiences during the crisis. Why? There are clearly many reasons but one of them is “better supervision.” After all, rules are only as good as their implementation. In some countries, the financial supervisor became the unsung hero of the crisis. One might say “It’s hip to be square!”

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