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Monday, 26 August 2013

American banks need further capital topping

It is important that stress tests are being conducted to asses the health of US banks, some of which are so large that they pose a systemic risk to the world's financial sector - EPA

 Fed's stress tests unveil flaws in planning process

LARGE US banks have lagged in terms of stress tests conducted by the Fed, pointing to possible further capital topping.

The Fed said in a paper released recenty that banks participating in regular “stress tests” had flaws in their capital planning processes, such as being unable to show that they considered all of the relevant risks to their businesses, said Reuters.

The paper pointed to problems such as modeling techniques that did not address bank-specific risks, loss and revenue projections that could not be replicated, or problems with governance of the planning process.

It is important that stress tests are being conducted to assess the health of US banks, some of which are so large that they pose a systemic risk to the world’s financial sector.

It is a tedious process but there is no choice; it is on the Fed to come up with increasingly sophisticated tools to conduct these stress tests.

It is not only in terms of stress tests that the US banks are lagging; progress has been slow in terms of adopting the Dodd-Frank Act.

Four years into the 2008 financial crisis, financial reform is still creeping along.

This is despite the collapse of a 100-year old bank, Lehman Brothers.

In fact, President Barack Obama had recently met with Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and other regulators, where he received an update and he also urged them to fully implement the Dodd-Frank Act.

Banks are said to be resentful of the Volcker rule that prohibits proprietary trading.

China has set up an agency to co-ordinate among other things, monetary and financial regulatory policies and help regulate financial products where jurisdiction overlaps.

It also coordinated information-sharing and statistics, an announcement on the Chinese government’s Web site said.

Withdrawal of stimulus packages, tightening of monetary and regulatory policies have impacted the financial sector severely.

Hence the timely setting up of such an agency which has no decision making powers; nevertheless the members of this advisory scheme have considerable weight.

The entity would be led by the central bank and would include representatives from banking, stock market and insurance regulators, as well as the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said the International Herald Tribune.

In its aim towards sustainable financial reform, the Chinese Government hopes that this agency will help smoothen a lot of the hiccups on the way. This agency will have plenty of work ahead, considering the size of the Chinese financial sector.

Despite a 28.4% year-on-year decline in revenue from continuing operations to S$7.38mil from S$10.31mil, the Singapore Exchange is proposing to reduce the standard size of securities traded from 1,000 units to 100 units, and one unit eventually.

Besides improving liquidity and retail interest, the exchange hopes to make the larger, more well-established available to investors.

This will have positive implications for Malaysians trading on the shared platform.

With the change, the minimum needed to buy a SS$10 stock falls to S$1,000, or 100 units of S$10.

Currently, eight out of the 30 stocks in the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI), a collection of the most stable and liquid stocks, trade at S$10 or higher.

In view of capital outflows experienced by emerging markets, this is a timely move to capture back some of the investors’ money.

Contributed by Plain Speaking by Yap Leng Kuen
Columnist Yap Leng Kuen hopes to see more measures aimed at preventing outflows.

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