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Country: UK, Bank warns 'lax financial rules' are a route to failure


Added on 09/02/2017

Sir Jon Cunliffe told the BBC that "lax controls" risked undoing progress that had been made since the financial crisis, reports BBC.

"We've made very substantial progress since the financial crisis, increasing the resilience of the financial sector and increasing its ability to support the economy in times of stress both nationally and in Europe and globally, including the US," Sir Jon told me.

"Those changes were necessary.

"None of us want to see again the sorts of events we saw between 2007 and 2009 and the costs of those events are still very clear.

"In order to have a resilient financial sector and consistent regulation internationally we need international standards, we need the reforms we have had and it is important we preserve them."

Sir Jon's comments come after suggestions that if Britain did not secure a good trade deal with the European Union following Brexit, the UK could become an offshore tax haven - encouraging businesses and banks to move to the country to avoid tougher regulations elsewhere.

Donald Trump, via an executive order, has also announced there will be a review of the Dodd-Frank legislation in America.

It was passed during the Obama presidency to control the use of complicated financial instruments by institutions, increase the amount of money banks are required to have available to avoid tax-payer funded bailouts and stop banks using their own money to invest in intricate equity and debt products for profit, what is called proprietary trading.

Although it had many supporters for making banks more secure, it has also been attacked for making banks less able to lend and more risk averse, particularly smaller, regional banks which support local economies.

Sir Jon, who is the deputy governor of the Bank responsible for financial stability, said that it was too early to say what the outcome of the reform proposals would be.

'Regulatory conflict'

He pointed out the executive order spoke about proportionate regulation and maintained the need to prevent bail outs which didn't seem "out of line" with global approaches to regulation.

Sir Jon said it was necessary, as the Bank had done, to investigate problems of "regulatory conflict" and change the rules where there had been unintended consequences.

But he warned that as the UK had a very large financial services sector - providing about 8% of the country's economic output - it was important that the highest standards were maintained.

"It is important we have proportionate, highest quality regulation - robust and in line with best international standards," he said.

"The UK - in order to be a successful financial centre, you need good regulation, you need robust regulation and you need regulators that have credibility and experience.

"One doesn't become successful as an international centre by having lax standards and by being open to crises and regulatory arbitrage [the use of regulatory loopholes to avoid banking costs]."

'Downside risks'

Sir Jon, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee which sets interest rates, said that the next move on interest rates, whether up or down, was "balanced".

Yesterday another MPC member, Kristin Forbes, suggested that she was moving towards supporting a rate rise because growth was more robust than originally thought and inflation was rising.

"There are risks on the downside as well," Sir Jon said.

"That [the economy] will slow faster and that uncertainty effects will come in and have an impact. For me the risks are evenly balanced."

Sir Jon was speaking at the launch of new Bank research which showed that a third of companies surveyed admitted that they had not invested enough over the last five years.

He said that investment was important to support economic growth and better productivity.

 

Reasons for not investing included economic uncertainty, risk aversion following the financial crisis and a perception that there were still constraints on bank lending. The man responsible for financial stability at the Bank of England has warned against relaxing banking regulation, saying that such a move could damage the global economy.