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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Global banking regulation, in the sense of setting common capital standards for international banks, has a forty-year history. Its early development reflected the instincts for cooperation on the part of central banks in the face of rapidly integrating global firms and for a time was highly effective and adaptive. The informality of the Basel Committee and its absence of legal status were seen as advantages, allowing agreements to be reached below the political radar. But the move from “by and large” guidelines to a detailed corpus of regulation applying to all banks has shown the limitations of a voluntarist approach, and there are signs that further progress toward common standards, evenly enforced, has stalled in the face of domestic political imperatives. That raises fundamental questions about the need for treaty underpinning of international financial standards, so far seen as too politically difficult, to guard against regulatory arbitrage.

Keywords: financial regulation, financial stability, soft law, capital requirements, minimum standards, compliance, regulatory arbitrage, voluntarism, Basel Committee, Financial Stability Forum

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