Reform could harm developing economies - World Bank

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 10:32 AM
Reform could harm developing economies - World Bank

LONDON (Reuters) - Plans by leading economies to reform the global financial system could disadvantage the developing world and risk looking outdated by the time they are enforced, a top World Bank official said on Sunday.

Vincenzo La Via, the institution's chief financial officer, said solutions for advanced economies are not necessarily a good fit for developing countries.

"Failing to take the developing world seriously enough, ignoring unintended consequences and imposing one-size-fits-all solutions could undermine efforts to establish a more stable global financial system," La Via wrote in a guest column for the Financial Times.

"The alternative is standards that ignore shifting realities, threatening the world with more uncertainty."

Basel III, the new capital standards agreed by regulators last year to reduce bank sector shocks, require banks to hold top-quality capital totaling 7 percent of their risk-bearing assets.

But La Via said emerging market economies may not be able to meet the capital-raising rules or to borrow internationally, forcing local banks to compete against heavy borrowing by advanced economies.

Regulators' approach to safeguarding the world's top banks has overlooked the effect on developing countries and the global economy, said La Via, who also represents the World Bank of the Financial Stability Board.

"The big subsidiary in a developing country may not seem that important within its global group. But its failure could be devastating for the local economy and could spark global contagion."

La Via also said developing countries should also be given a bigger say in efforts by European and U.S. regulators to improve accounting standards to make sure they are global.

"If developing countries' concerns are not taken into account, they will have little incentive to adopt them. This could provide opportunities for regulatory arbitrage, with riskier financial transactions moving to the least-regulated markets," he said.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris)