25 Jahre IWH

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Structural Reforms in Banking: The Role of Trading

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, significant regulatory actions have been taken aimed at limiting risks emanating from trading in bank business models. Prominent reform proposals are the Volcker Rule in the U.S., the Vickers Report in the UK, and, based on the Liikanen proposal, the Barnier proposal in the EU. A major element of these reforms is to separate “classical” commercial banking activities from securities trading activities, notably from proprietary trading. While the reforms are at different stages of implementation, there is a strong ongoing discussion on what possible economic consequences are to be expected. The goal of this paper is to look at the alternative approaches of these reform proposals and to assess their likely consequences for bank business models, risk-taking and financial stability. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows: First, the focus on a prohibition of only proprietary trading, as envisaged in the current EU proposal, is inadequate. It does not necessarily reduce risk-taking and it likely crowds out desired trading activities, thereby negatively affecting financial stability. Second, there is potentially a better solution to limit excessive trading risk at banks in terms of potential welfare consequences: Trading separation into legally distinct or ring-fenced entities within the existing banking organizations. This kind of separation limits cross-subsidies between banking and proprietary trading and diminishes contagion risk, while still allowing for synergies across banking, non-proprietary trading and proprietary trading.

21. März 2016

Autoren Felix Noth Ulrich Schüwer Jan Pieter Krahnen

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Structural Reforms in Banking: The Role of Trading

Jan Pieter Krahnen Felix Noth U. Schuewer

in: Journal of Financial Regulation , Nr. 1, 2017

Abstract

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, significant regulatory actions have been taken aimed at limiting risks emanating from banks’ trading activities. The goal of this article is to look at the alternative reforms in the US, the UK and the EU, specifically with respect to the role of proprietary trading. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows: First, the focus on a prohibition of proprietary trading, as reflected in the Volcker Rule in the US and in the current proposal of the European Commission (Barnier proposal), is inadequate. It does not necessarily reduce risk-taking and it is likely to crowd out desired trading activities, thereby possibly affecting financial stability negatively. Second, trading separation into legally distinct or ring-fenced entities within the existing banking organizations, as suggested under the Vickers proposal for the UK and the Liikanen proposal for the EU, is a more effective solution. Separation limits cross-subsidies between banking and proprietary trading and diminishes contagion risk, while still allowing for synergies and risk management across banking, non-proprietary trading, and proprietary trading.

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