The Federalist Society

The Basel Risk-Based Capital Standards: Are they Workable?

Financial Services Practice Group

Attempts by U.S. banking regulators to modernize risk-based banking standards, in the context of the international Basel bank capital standards, have been plagued by complexity, confusion, and delay. What started out more than a decade ago as an update to Basel I (adopted in 1988) has degenerated into several variants, none of which has enjoyed broad support. The ongoing debate over Basel reform has led to at least a decade of delay in updating Basel I, and further delays are highly likely, raising the prospect that the entire global Basel reform process will collapse. Further complicating Basel reform are the potential unintended consequences on the interaction between risk-based capital standards of any type and the unique-to-the-U.S. leverage capital standards for banks.

10:00 - 11:45 a.m.
A Basel Backgrounder 

Is an international bank capital standard constitutional in the U.S. without Senate ratification as if it were a treaty? Is there really a need for internationally applicable bank capital standards? If so, who benefits from such a standard(s)? What competitive distortions are likely to arise in the application of new Basel capital standards, whether every bank operates under the same rules or there are different rules for different-size and type banks? What are the unintended consequences of the interaction between a simple leverage capital requirement and a risk-based capital requirement?

  • Mr. Bert Ely, Ely & Company
  • Mr. George E. French, Deputy Director, Policy and Examination Oversight, FDIC
  • Hon. Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise Institute
  • Mr. Gary Wilhite, Senior Vice President, Credit Risk Management, Wachovia Corporation
  • Mr. Charles M. Miller, Keating Muething & Klekamp, PLL-Moderator

 This panel will be published by the Connecticut Insurance Law Journal in 2008.

12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.
Luncheon & Keynote Address 

  • Hon. Chuck Hagel, United States Senator, Nebraska

1:00  - 2:30 p.m.
The Ideal Basel 

What are the alternatives for resolving the multiple Basel imbroglios? How can any potential adverse interactions between new risk-based capital standards and the leverage capital ratio be minimized? What approaches can be taken to minimize the possible competitive distortions between (1) banks of different sizes, (2) domestic-only versus internationally active banks, and (3) banks assuming different types of risks, such as credit risk, interest-rate risk, or operational risk? What should be done to resolve conflicts and duplication between risk-based capital standards and the FDIC's new risk-based deposit-insurance premium assessment system?

  • Hon. Wayne A. Abernathy, American Bankers Association and former Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • Ms. Karen Shaw Petrou, Federal Financial Analytics
  • Mr. Michael Roster, Former Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Golden West Financial Corporation
  • Mr. Charles Taylor, Director, Operational Risk, Risk Management Association
  • Prof. Keith R. Fisher, Michigan State University College of Law-Moderator

 This panel will be published by the Fordham Journal of Corporate and Finance Law in early 2008.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
National Press Club
Washington, D.C.


The Federalist Society