Global Financial System

   

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the effective regulation and supervision of the international financial architecture?

EUOECD
 
The government (pro-)actively promotes the regulation and supervision of financial markets. It demonstrates initiative and responsibility in such endeavors and often acts as an international agenda-setter.
10
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9
Canada
The Canadian government, through various departments and agencies, contributes actively to the effective regulation and supervision of the international financial architecture. The Bank of Canada has been particularly prominent in the international arena. The former Bank of Canada Governor and current Government of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, chairs the G-20 Financial Stability Board. Other senior Bank of Canada officials have played important roles in other international financial forums. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) has also been very active internationally.
Finland
Following the collapse of financial markets in Europe and the increased vulnerability of financial markets globally, political leaders in Finland have urged the passage of stronger regulations and more coordinated market supervision. In terms of attitudes and action, Finland has presented itself as an agenda-setter, providing support to countries seeking to advance self-regulation and combat excessive market risk-taking. Finland has also pursued measures to secure its own finances. According to a report by the International Monetary Fund in December 2017, Finland’s banking system is well-capitalized. Though the report also noted that the relocation of the headquarter of the Nordea Group from Stockholm to Helsinki will more than triple the size of bank assets under supervision. Also, while low interest rates have squeezed net interest income, banks have increased income from trading and insurance. Importantly, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all have sound financial systems that have withstood the impact of the European financial crisis. In 2013, the Finnish government approved the Europe 2020 National Program, which contains measures and national targets for achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. The program includes proposals to create an effective national macroprudential supervision system. With some 200 employees, the Financial Supervisory Authority is tasked with overseeing Finland’s financial and insurance sector. The Financial Markets Department of the Ministry of Finance creates the rules for financial markets and the framework in which markets may operate; the department is also responsible for ensuring that the Ministry of Finance’s international activities remain effective.
Citations:
“Finanssimarkkinoiden makrotaloudellisten vaikutusten sääntely ja valvonta”, Työryhmän muistio 32/2012, Ministry of Finance, Publications 2012;
imf./org/en/Publications/CR/issues/2016/12/31/Finland-Financial-System-Assessment-44437;
www.Springer.com/cda/content…/978146/14955352-c1.pdf?
https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2017/12/13/Finland-Selected-Issues-45467
Germany
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, policy initiatives in the field of financial market governance underwent a strategic realignment from private self-regulation toward public regulation, with the aim of in the future avoiding costly public bailouts of private banks. Germany has assumed a leading role in the fight against the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Its maximum financial guarantee for the European Stability Mechanism amounts to €190 billion. The country is also exposed to risks through the European Central Bank’s TARGET payment system.

Germany has been an early advocate of the European Banking Union, integrating several elements into national law (e.g., rules for bank restructuring in a crisis) before EU standards emerged. Internationally, Germany argued vigorously in favor of coordinated, international steps to reform the global financial system and to eliminate tax and regulatory havens. In addition, Germany is one of the driving forces that helped to develop the G-20 summit into a first-class forum for international cooperation. Despite these efforts, however, Germany has also clearly defended the interests of its domestic banking system, particularly with respect to the special deposit insurance programs of state-owned savings banks (Sparkassen). The government remains concerned that pooling Europe’s deposit insurance systems too early could result in the collectivization of bad bank debts.

Although skeptical at first, the German government ultimately revised its position regarding the implementation of an EU level financial transaction tax (FTT). The European Commission proposed to introduce an FTT within the European Union in 2013. While there has been limited progress since then, Germany and France remain the strongest proponents of an EU FTT. The issue is currently at a standstill in the European Council. In November 2018, France and Germany took the initiative to unlock talks on the European level. The German minister of finance, Olaf Scholz, said that the French tax would be a good basis for future talks.
Citations:
European Parliament (2017): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-deeper-and-fairer-internal-market-with-a-strengthened-industrial-base-taxation/file-financial-transaction-tax
Sweden
The Swedish government has stood behind essentially all efforts to enforce regulation aiming at preventing criminal financial behavior in international financial management. Sweden also supports and implements rules laid out by the European Union and other international institutions related to international finance. It has rejected proposals, however, to introduce a Tobin-style tax on international financial transactions.

On the domestic scene, some friction between the finance ministry and the big commercial banks has been noticeable over the past couple of years. The discord has related to the banks’ insistence on giving their staff huge bonuses and charging high financial management fees. Another potential source of friction between the finance ministry and major commercial banks relates to political signals, and subsequent reforms, to force lenders to mortgage their loans rather than just pay interest. The Ministry, in concert with the National Bank, is concerned about the level of household debt, suggesting that there is a growing bubble in the metropolitan real-estate markets. Reducing debt and/or phasing out the right to deduct interest payments would help reduce the likelihood of such a bubble. Although the banks do not have a commercial interest in debt reduction per se, they have also recently expressed concerns regarding the high household debt levels.

Taken together, Sweden is a forerunner for the sustainable regulation of international as well as domestic financial markets. This status is a consequence of the financial crisis in Sweden in the early 1990s, which initiated rapid policy learning in all major parties represented in the Swedish parliament.
 
The government contributes to improving the regulation and supervision of financial markets. In some cases, it demonstrates initiative and responsibility in such endeavors.
8
Belgium
Belgian banks suffered extensively during the global financial and economic crisis, and the Belgian government was more proactive than many of its European peers in restructuring banks. Yet Belgium is clearly too small to be able to restore financial stability alone. Indeed, some of the largest Belgian banks are structurally linked to other European banks, or have in fact become subsidiaries of larger banks with headquarters based in neighboring countries (e.g., ING, BNP Paribas). This has led the government to promote international efforts to restore financial stability and combat financial fraud and tax evasion (from which Belgium is a clear loser, in spite of repeated initiatives to recover revenues lost through tax evasion using banks based in countries such as Luxembourg). Belgium also took an active part in the creation of the so-called banking union in the euro zone, and has sought to improve banking supervision within its borders. Various scandals such as the Panama and Paradise papers press leaks have also given new impetus to the government’s efforts to improve banking transparency. Indeed, some Belgian investigative journalists were instrumental in these projects, working alongside peers from other countries. In October 2018, Belgium’s judiciary was granted comprehensive access to citizens’ financial records. The purpose is to improve the fight against financial criminal activities, as investigators previously could only access citizens’ financial information through the banks and credit institutions.
Citations:
http://plus.lesoir.be/118686/article/2017-10-11/panama-papers-les-socialistes-maintiennent-la-pression
http://plus.lesoir.be/123189/article/2017-11-08/paradise-papers-meme-letat-belge-senvole-aux-iles-vierges#123186
https://www.lecho.be/economie-politique/belgique/federal/la-justice-aura-desormais-acces-a-toutes-les-pistes-financieres/10064659.html
Denmark
In recent years, regulation of the financial sector has been changed in accordance with EU rules and regulations to increase the resilience, and reduce the risk exposure and likelihood of a public bail-out of financial institutions. Systemically important financial institutions are subject to specific requirements. The financial supervisory authority plays an important role and has been increasingly proactive. A systemic risk council monitors and surveys developments in the financial sector.

An open question is whether Denmark should participate in the European banking union in which case the larger (systemic) financial institutions will fall under the supervision of the European Central Bank (ECB). The government’s view is that Denmark should join the banking union, but the leader of the Social Democrats, Mette Frederiksen, has suggested that a referendum on the issue should take place. The prime minister will only support a referendum if it is required by the constitution. According to a note from the Ministry of Justice from 30 April 2015, Denmark can join the banking union without a referendum.

It remains to be seen how the Danske Bank scandal, which involved the whitewashing of money in Estonia, will affect the Danish banking sector.
Citations:
Danmarks Nationalbank, “Economic-policy cooperation in the EU,” http://www.nationalbanken.dk/DNUK/Euro.nsf/side/Economic-policy_cooperation_in_the_EU!OpenDocument (accessed 2 May 2013).

Kraka Finanskrisekommission, 2014, Den danske finanskrise - kan det ske igen?; København.

Rangvid, J. m.fl. 2013, Den finansielle krise i Danmark - årsager, konsekvenser og læring, report from government appointed commission.

“Løkke om bankunion: Vi skal skynde os langsomt.” http://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/loekke-om-bankunion-vi-skal-skynde-os-langsomt

“Pyha, Bankunionen er sparket til hjørne,” http://www.business.dk/finans/pyha-bankunionen-er-sparket-til-hjoerne (Accessed 23 October 2016).

“Regeringen genovervejer EU’s bankunion,” http://www.altinget.dk/artikel/regeringen-genovervejer-eus-bankunion (Accessed 5 November 2017).

Folketingets EU-oplysning, Bankunion. https://www.eu.dk/da/fakta-om-eu/politikker/oekonomisk-politik/banker (Accessed 11 October 2018).

“Løkke hælder til dansk ja til bankunionen - Socialdemokratiet kræver folkeafstemning,” http://nyheder.tv2.dk/politik/2018-11-04-lokke-haelder-til-dansk-ja-til-bankunionen-socialdemokratiet-kraever (Accessed 8 November 2018).
Estonia
Estonia actively participates in developing and securing financial stability and transparency in global financial markets. Estonia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Moneyval monitoring body. In 2014, Estonia passed a Moneyval assessment, which involved an on-the-spot inspection, having registered good progress on the implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. Several domestic bodies have been established to combat money laundering, such as the Governmental Committee for the Coordination of Money Laundering Prevention, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (FSA). The FIU is an independent unit of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, and the FSA is an independent body that supervises all financial sector participants. In the recent years, the FSA has had a prominent role in combating money laundering in the Estonian financial sector. In 2018, in cooperation with the European Central Bank, the FSA revoked the banking license of Versobank (a small Estonian bank) following on-the-spot inspections. After many years of attempting to engage Danish counterparts regarding potential weaknesses within the anti-money laundering (AML) controls of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, the FSA conducted two very thorough on-the-spot inspections of Dankse Bank’s Estonian branch in 2014. These inspections led to the closure of nearly all services to business and private clients of the Estonian branch in 2018. The FSA’s actions led to the disclosure that the bank branch may have passed up to €200 billion in transactions that are likely to have violated AML controls. Based on the Danske case, in 2018, the Estonian government undertook several measures to prevent similar cases in Estonian financial system. One of the government’s key policy proposals is to make bank clients wholly responsible for proving the legality of their funds. The FIU analyses and verifies information in case where money laundering or terrorist financing are suspected, taking measures where necessary and forwarding materials to the competent authorities upon detection of a criminal offence. The Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act was amended in 2017 and further changes are being planned.
France
French governments of either political complexion are generally in favor of regulation and control of the global financial system. The Hollande government, like its predecessor, has been active internationally and at the EU level in supporting better international banking regulations. Both administrations have been strongly supportive of all initiatives contributing to the re-capitalization of banks, to the better control of speculative funds and to the fight against fiscal evasion and tax havens. They also have been active, together with 10 other EU member governments, in proposing to impose a levy on financial transactions (the so-called Tobin tax). In spite of the standstill situation over introducing this tax, the new government has declared its support for this initiative. Recent French governments have also pushed for the creation of a banking supervision mechanism at the EU level. The Hollande and Macron governments have been or are committed to improving fiscal cooperation on information exchange, the fight against tax havens and tax evasion. In 2016, the French parliament adopted a better system of controls and sanctions to tackle corruption at the international level (“Loi Sapin 2”), and Macron is actively pushing at EU level for a higher and fairer taxation of multinational companies working in the information technology sector (the so-called “GAFA”).
Israel
Israel has several regulatory institutions tasked with supervising financial markets. The most prominent include the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) and the Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA). Recent challenges tackled by the ISA include banning binary options trading, the establishment of a committee to study the regulation of cryptocurrencies, and an investigation into a local telecommunications giant – Bezeq (known as “case 4,000”). These institutions are responsible for insuring market stability and fair competition. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, different government organizations worked to limit risk in the banking and insurance industry. Actions include tightening the rules on mortgages, adopting Basel III regulation and raising minimum capital ratios. Several committees have been formed to investigate structural reforms and submit policy recommendations. Both OECD and central bank assessments have been cautiously optimistic, with the latter pointing to important regulatory tools that are currently being developed for future implementation.

In 2016, following OECD recommendations, the government approved the creation of a new capital authority. The Department of Capital in the Ministry of Finance has been shuttered, and a new, independent authority put in its place, although the finance minister still oversees this body. Among its fields of responsibility, the new authority is in charge of ensuring the stability of regulated finance institutions and making sure they fulfill their obligations to their customers. According to the 2017 annual report of the authority, it supervises approximately ILS 1.5 trillion in funds and 2,000 finance services providers, and led to many changes in the financial regulatory regime, including the assignment of protected bonds to retired citizens, the return of surplus savings from the national car accident victims fund to insurance-holding car-owners, and tighter controls on money laundering and financing terrorism.
Citations:
“Financial stability report,” Bank of Israel 2014 (Hebrew). “Israel – Economic forecast summary,” November 2014. http://www.oecd.org/economy/israel-economic-forecast-summary.htm.

ISA annual report 2017, ISA website, 27.06.2018:
http://www.isa.gov.il/sites/ISAEng/1489/1512/Documents/ENG-FINAL.pdf

Ministry of Finance, The Authority for Capital Market, Insurance and Savings, Annual report 2017 chapter 1, 01.07.2018(Hebrew):
https://mof.gov.il/hon/documents/report2017_chapter1.pdf

Sasson, Asa, “The government approved the creation of the new finance authority,” The Marker 13.03.2016(Hebrew): http://www.themarker.com/markets/1.2881163
Lithuania
Lithuanian authorities contribute to improving financial-market regulation and supervision. Lithuania joined the euro zone and the single European banking supervisory system in 2015. The Lithuanian Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Lithuania (the country’s central bank) are involved in the activities of EU institutions and arrangements dealing with international financial markets (including the European Council, the European Commission, the European Systemic Risk Board’s (ESRB) Advisory Technical Committee, the European supervisory authorities, etc.). Lithuanian authorities are involved in the activities of more than 150 committees, working groups and task forces set up by the European Council, the European Commission, the ESRB’s Advisory Technical Committee and other European supervisory authorities. Lithuanian authorities support inclusive euro zone decision making, which includes EU members which are not euro zone members, and further completion of the banking union.

In addition, the Bank of Lithuania cooperates with various international financial institutions and foreign central banks, in part by providing technical assistance to central banks located in the EU’s eastern neighbors. Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service cooperates with EU institutions, international organizations and other governments on the issue of money laundering. The country has lent its support to many initiatives concerning the effective regulation and supervision of financial markets. In recent years, the Bank of Lithuania has tightened regulation of short-term lending practices to target so called fast-credit companies and attract foreign financial institutions. At the same time, the Bank of Lithuania has attempted to attract fintech companies to Lithuania in the context of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. This would increase competition in a banking sector heavily dominated by Nordic banks, where the largest three make up 86% of the total banking sector.
Norway
Being a small country, Norway is not a major actor in international financial regulation. However, it is a notable player in financial markets as a result of its sovereign wealth fund. In this area, it has set standards of good international financial governance. The fund itself has been a conservative voice in international financial discussions, and leads by demonstrating good practices. The set of so-called Santiago principles have established procedures for increasing transparency related to sovereign wealth funds, which has undoubtedly constrained government action in similar areas. Norway is supportive of international efforts to combat corruption, tax evasion and the like. In its financial regulatory policies, the European Union is part of the European Union’s internal market, and complies with EU rules and regulations. Although the financial sector is heavily exposed to the petroleum and shipping sectors, both of which have had to navigate difficult economic times, the financial sector remains robust and stable, which is in part a result of the regulatory reforms introduced by the government. The fund also supported the G20-based initiative of carbon risk financial disclosure and joined a working group to explore how sovereign wealth funds can contribute to the achievement of Paris Agreement targets.
Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the world’s most significant financial markets. Swiss banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse are global financial players. The post-2007 global crisis and the economic problems of UBS in Switzerland – which forced the Swiss government to intervene massively in order to avoid bankruptcy of this major bank in 2008 – triggered banking reforms. The federal government, bankers and international organizations such as the OECD claim that Swiss private and public actors have been active on the global level in reforming the international banking system, in particular in interaction with regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom, United States and European Union.

After the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, the government introduced measures to deal with the problem of banks being “too big to fail.” Though it remains unclear whether these new rules and institutions will be sufficient in the event of a major crisis, the Swiss approach numbers among the most sound and prudent systems of regulation worldwide.
7
Austria
As a member of the European Union, Austria’s economy is closely linked to the other members of the European Single Market. Austria has nevertheless sought to defend special national interests against the implementation of general standards such as banking transparency. Therefore, Austria has come under pressure from the United States and fellow European Union members to open its financial system according to standards widely acknowledged and respected by most other financial actors worldwide. This led to the decision to essentially abolish banking secrecy, for which Austria was long known.

Austria – under the former government – had been particularly engaged in the promotion and implementation of an EU-wide tax on financial transactions. In January 2013, 11 European countries agreed to introduce a financial transaction tax. However, under the new government, Austria has obstructed rather than promoted progress in the implementation of this new tax.

The Austria’s presidency of the European Council (during the second half of 2018) started (at least) with a declaration of the intention to continue the debate concerning the transactional tax. Though, as this has been overshadowed by the Brexit debate, nothing significant has been achieved. Generally, Austria does not play a specific role within the European Union’s Economic and Monetary Union. Austria follows the general trends as defined by the global economy, and the European Central Bank and other EU institutions.
Latvia
The volume of bank deposits made by non-residents has presented a systemic risk to the Latvian financial system. However, this risk is declining. The share of non-resident deposits to total deposits shrank from 53.4% in 2015 to 42.8% in 2016. The share of non-resident deposits continued to fall in 2017 as Latvia’s membership in the OECD and new international banking regulations saw Latvia’s regulators and banks tighten their anti-money laundering practices, Latvia was lauded for this in an annual report from the OECD. Non-resident deposits in Latvian banks dropped further to an historic low of 20.5% in August 2018.

Latvia’s banking system is increasingly interconnected with the Nordic and Baltic regional system, requiring increased collaboration to address Nordic parent bank vulnerabilities and their spillover effects.

Overall, despite the suspension of activities of Latvia’s third largest bank following allegations of money laundering, the banking system remains well capitalized and liquid, with capital-to-risk-weighted assets of 22.4% and liquid assets exceeding 80% of short-term liabilities at the end of March 2018.

In addition, Latvia adopted a National Risk Assessment for money laundering and terrorist financing in 2017, articulating an understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks that the country faces. However, the absence of a robust risk assessment (e.g., which would address confusion between unusual and suspicious transaction reports) for terrorist financing still represents a key deficiency in the effective supervision of international financial security. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity in the legal system regarding targeted financial sanctions. With the exception of the Financial Capital Market Commission, Latvia’s supervisory authorities are not active in international cooperation regarding money laundering and terrorist financing.
Citations:
1. Finance and Capital Market Commission (2018), Non-resident investementsinvestments in Eurozone, Available at: http://www.fktk.lv/attachments/article/7212/INFOGRAFIKA_2015-2018_11-09-2018_LV.pdf, Last assessed: 28.12.2018

2. IMF (2018), Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for the Republic of Latvia, Available at: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2018/09/05/Republic-of-Latvia-2018-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-by-46206 , Last assessed: 28.12.2018.

3. Council of Europe (2018), Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures: Latvia, Fifth Round Mutual Evaluation Report. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/moneyval-2018-8-5th-round-mer-latvia/16808ce61b , Last assessed: 28.12.2018
Malta
Malta is a small economy and as such is not a principal actor in the regulation of financial markets. However, it possesses consolidated links with regional and international organizations which help it through shared intelligence, to combat high-risk or criminal financial activities, ensuring fair cost- and risk-sharing among market actors when a market failure occurs or is likely to occur, and to enhance information transparency in international markets and financial movements. The Central Bank of Malta, Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and Ministry of Finance collaborate closely with similar bodies abroad.

The Central Bank of Malta operates within the European System of Central Banks. Malta is also a member of MONEYVAL, a European committee of experts evaluating anti-money-laundering measures. Supranational regulatory regimes have strong influence on Maltese banking regulations. For instance, the 2014 European Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive was transposed into Maltese law in 2015. In the same year, the Central Bank of Malta introduced the concept of a central credit register, which is “a database which contains non-anonymous information, debtor exposure-by-exposure, of both legal and natural persons, provided by resident credit institutions (banks) licensed by the MFSA,” and which requires Maltese banks to report end-of-month balances of exposures exceeding €5,000.

The government established the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, to help combat high risk or criminal financial activities. The FIAU is responsible for the collection, collation, processing, analysis and dissemination of information with a view to combating money laundering and the funding of terrorism. The unit is also responsible for monitoring compliance with the relevant legislative provisions as well as issuing guidelines to curb money laundering. Although the FIAU forms part of the Ministry for Finance, the unit functions autonomously and has a separate judicial personality. Throughout its years of operation, the FIAU has signed MoUs with other FIAUs, and spearheaded the transposition of the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive into Maltese law. The new regulations came into force in 2018; among other provisions, they provide for the establishment of a National Coordinating Committee, which brings together all key governmental stakeholders and authorities in the area. The Maltese police forces also include an Economic Crimes Unit and National Counterfeit Unit. However, these remain relatively weak, and there have been few convictions or sanctions for money laundering.

Policies within the Maltese financial sector have recently raised concerns at the European and international level, and the sector has been accused of being slow to react to problems i n a number of cases. The Standard and Poor’s credit-rating agency recently highlighted increased reputational and operational risks within the Maltese banking sector, and increased the country’s risk level by two points on its 10-point scale. The European Banking Authority (EBA) has also found Malta to be in breach of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive; in response, MFSA has already started to implement a number of key strategic initiatives aimed at strengthening the Authority’s supervisory capacity and regulatory performance. These include: “Reviewing and improving internal authorization procedures to strengthen the engagement between the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and the MFSA’s anti-money laundering (AML) team; reviewing and improving protocols for cooperation with the FIAU for conducting supervision of credit institutions both during authorization and on an on-going basis; process Improvement and digitization of procedures and knowledge management for conducting due diligence and fit and proper checks both during authorization and throughout the licensee’s lifecycle; integrating AML and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) risks in the risk-assessment framework and in the business-model analysis of banking supervision at the MFSA; reviewing the organization of financial supervision to further integrate AML/CFT risks into prudential supervision.” It is also looking to increase its human resources substantially, especially with regard to supervisory positions. In October 2018, the MFSA also issued guidance notes to politically exposed persons to strengthen its AML procedures.
Citations:
www.mfsa.com.mt/pages/viewcontent.aspx?id=136
https://www.centralbankmalta.org/ relations-with-international-institutions
Times of Malta 26/10/2015 The impact of the European Bank Recovery & Resolution Directive
The Malta Independent 16/04/2015 Central Credit Register to become operational by October
https://www.centralbankmalta.org/ccr
https://www.coe.int/en/web/moneyval/moneyval-brief/members
http://www.fiumalta.org/about
https://www.financemalta.org/publications/articles-interviews/articles-and-interviews-detail/prevention-of-money-laundering-and-funding-of-terrorism-regulations-2 017/
http://www.fiumalta.org/library/PDF/misc/Bill_ENG.pdf
The 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, An Academic Analysis. A Policy paper by ELSA Malta’s Social Policy Organizing Committee
The Malta Independent 23/12/2017 Malta transposes EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive
https://pulizija.gov.mt/en/police-force/police-sections/Pages/Economic-Crimes-Unit.aspx
Reuters 14/11/17 Murder and Money Laundering in Malta
https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2017/11/17/ms111717-malta-staff-concluding-statement-of-the-2017-article-iv-mission
The Malta Independent 11/10/2018 Worlds apart: the parallel worlds of EBA and FIAU
The Malta Independent 02/08/2018 Updated: Malta’s banking sector reputation ‘could be at risk’ - Standard & Poor’s
Malta Today 14/10/18 supervising the supervisors
Slovakia
As a small country, Slovakia has very limited capacity to influence the regulation or supervision of the global financial markets. Regarding these issues, it tends to follow the EU mainstream. Slovakia has been supporting the international regulation of financial markets, including the creation of a banking union and implementing all European Union directives regarding supervision of financial markets as well as the establishment of the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Slovakia supports also the transparency of tax systems in order to enhance investment activities and the monitoring of cross-border financial flows both within Europe and globally.
Spain
Though aware of its limitations as only a medium-sized power and indebted economy, Spain behaves as an important partner in international forums and tries to contribute actively to improving the regulation and supervision of financial markets. Spain is a permanent invited guest to G-20 meetings, and sits on the Financial Stability Board. It is also part of the IMF system (with 1.94% of the votes) and the World Bank (1.74%). It has also been engaged within the OECD in the fight against tax havens, with a particular focus on Andorra and Gibraltar. In March 2018, Luis de Guindos was appointed vice president of the ECB. At the European regional level, Spain is a member of the EU and is the fourth most important state within the euro zone. It has pushed hard in recent years for a banking union and for the European Central Bank to take a more active role in strengthening the single European currency. It has also sought to strengthen regulation of rating agencies
Netherlands
The Intervention Bill, which came into effect in June 2012, includes new powers for the Netherlands’ central bank and minister of finance. The bill grants the latter the authority to intervene in the affairs of financial institutions in order to maintain systemic stability. As a result, the capital ratio of the four largest Dutch banks has gradually moved toward compliance with the new European capitalization requirements.

Following a parliamentary inquiry into the country’s handling of the banking crisis, the Center for Economic Policy Analysis now annually produces a risk report on financial markets. In 2017, although the government considers increased policy uncertainties in the international political environment a threat, it also observes that it does not (yet) affect the stability of (Dutch) financial markets. In 2018, regarding the debate on a Europe-wide banking union that would introduce effective risk reduction and risk sharing, the Dutch government prioritized the reduction of existing risks before the creation of real risk-sharing instruments like a European Deposit Insurance Scheme or a Single Resolution Fund.

The Netherlands is slowly but surely losing its position in the important bodies that together shape the global financial architecture. In EU policymaking in the past, the Dutch tended to agree with the UK position in principle, but follow the German position in practice. After all, as a small but internationally significant export economy, the Dutch have a substantial interest in a sound international financial and legal architecture. However, given the new wave of political skepticism toward international affairs, as exemplified by a no-vote in the 2016 Ukraine referendum, until recently the Dutch should be regarded more as reluctant followers than as proactive initiators or agenda setters. Now Brexit is a near-certainty, advised by its Advisory Council on International Affairs, the Dutch government has attempted to take the lead in forming a new “Hanse” alliance of northern European states. Recent statements by Prime Minister Rutte regarding Macron’s plans for revitalizing the EU project may also signal increased “rapprochement” with the French. Nevertheless, the government has been hesitating to deal with gross inequalities in the fiscal treatment of foreign and domestic capital. This may indicate a return to a financial policy agenda driven more by national interests than by broader concern with global financial safety. After all, the Center of Economic Policy Analysis states that the Netherlands should do more to reduce opportunities for international tax evasion opportunities.
Citations:
CPB Risicorapportage Financiële Markten 2018. CPB Notitie 29 May, 2018

Nederlands Instituut voor Internationale Betrekkingen Clingendael, Conferentie “Veranderingen in het multilaterale bestel voor international economisch en financieel beleid. Uitdagingen voor Nederland en Belgie,” 22 oktober 2012, Den Haag.

H. Vollaard et al. (eds.), 2015. “Van aanvallen! naar verdedigen? De opstelling van Nederland ten aanzien van de Europese integratie, 1945-2015, Boom.

NRC-Handelsblad, CPB; Kabinet kan meer doen aan internationale belastingontwijking, 3 October 2018

NRC-next, Ruttes toenemende buitenlandse interesse goed voor Nederland, 4 July, 2018

Trouw, Zonder nieuwe bondgenoten zal Nederland het niet redden, 7 September 2018
UK
The City of London is home to one of the world’s main financial hubs. Consequently, governments in the United Kingdom have traditionally tried to protect the interests of the City of London against more intrusive regulation whether national, European or global. Governments have often argued that the special characteristics of London as a financial center are not given sufficient attention by Brussels in particular. The Libor scandal of 2012 over the fixing of market interest rates, as well as other instances of market abuse, contributed to a reduction in public support for the financial sector and increased public pressure for tighter financial regulation.

At the international level, successive governments have taken a prominent role in attempts to improve the international regulatory framework through international bodies, such as the Financial Stability Board (chaired by the governor of the Bank of England) and the Bank for International Settlements, as well as through the prominent role of the Bank Governor in the European Systemic Risk Board. The United Kingdom has had substantial influence on EU financial reforms, both through government action and in the form of initiatives from the City of London.

Continued uncertainty regarding future relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union could affect the United Kingdom’s stance on global financial regulation. Though the expectation is that UK financial regulation will remain closely aligned with EU and international standards.

The European Banking Agency will move from London to Paris which will have ramifications on the United Kingdom’s proximity to centers of decision-making.
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Australia
As a globally oriented country with a high degree of international economic integration, including financial market integration, Australia has a strong interest in promoting a stable, efficient and transparent international financial system. Australia displays a strong commitment to preventing criminal financial activities, including tax evasion. To that end, the government has information sharing arrangements with a number of countries. However, Australia is a relatively small player in international finance and has a limited ability to shape the regulatory process within multilateral institutions.

Prudential supervision of Australian banks and other financial institutions is generally of high quality. Indeed, reflecting its strong regulations, no Australian bank experienced substantial financial difficulties throughout the financial crises that began in 2008. In 2014, the Abbott government commissioned a broad-ranging inquiry into the Australian financial system, focusing on how the financial system can most effectively help the Australian economy be productive, grow and meet the financial needs of Australians. The report made 44 recommendations, a number of which were implemented by the subsequent Turnbull government, including an increase in banks’ capital adequacy requirements. According to government estimates, the four largest banks needed an additional AUD 40 billion in fresh capital. Additionally, the 2017 budget introduced a “major bank levy” on banks with over AUD 100 billion in total liabilities, which applied to the five largest banks from 1 July 2017. The levy rate is set at 0.015% of the balance of a bank’s total liabilities (but with a number of exclusions), and is expected to raise approximately AUD 1.5 - 1.6 billion per annum.

While Australian banks appear to be stable, they have substantial exposure to real estate lending. 60% of the Australian financial system’s loan book is in real estate lending. A severe decline of house prices would cause severe problems for the banking system. A further cause for concern about future prospects for the banking system is that, motivated by widespread reports of unconscionable conduct by banks and other financial institutions, in 2018 the federal government initiated a Royal Commission of Inquiry into misconduct in the finance industry. The inquiry was ongoing as of the end of the review period and is due to report in February 2019.

Australia has accumulated a high level of foreign debt, with net debt of over AUD 1 trillion and gross debt of AUD 1.9 trillion. While this high level of debt is a risk to Australia’s financial stability, Australian governments have not addressed this issue, arguing that it reflects the decisions of the private sector (including households). An increase in real interest rates, initiated by the U.S. Federal Reserve, will place a significant burden on Australian debtors. In 2017, household debt was 211% of net disposable income, one of the highest ratios in the OECD.
Citations:
Buttiglione, Luigi; Lane, Philip R.; Reichlin, Lucrezia and Vincent Reinhart (2014): Deleveraging? What Deleveraging? Center for Economic Policy Research, Geneva Reports on the World Economy, Nr. 16 (September 2014), p. 15.

Financial System Inquiry Final Report, December 2014: http://fsi.gov.au/publications/final-report/

https://financialservices.royalcommission.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

Is it time to end ultra-low rate regime? The Australian. 11./12. March 2017, p. 25.
https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/external-debt

The Economist, Like a shag on a rock. 16 May 2015. S. 63.

https://data.oecd.org/hha/household-debt.htm#indicator-chart

Emily Cadman: Moody’s move shines light on Australia’s home loan risks, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 2018, available at https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/moodys-move-shines-light-on-australias-home-loan-risks-20170620-gwufh4.html

Michael Janda: Australia’s debt binge ‘coming to an end,’ says Bank for International Settlements. 25 June 2018. Available at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-25/australia-named-as-household-debt-problem-country/9905390

OECD: Households accounts, available at https://data.oecd.org/hha/household-debt.htm
Chile
Given its small size, Chile has quite limited power within international arrangements and, although it participates in regional institutions and regimes, the country has distanced itself from the recent tendencies of its Latin American neighbors to strengthen their respective independence from international-level political hegemony and financial sources. During the world economic and financial crisis, the government applied an austerity policy and engaged in a responsible budgeting policy mandating a 1% structural surplus, largely shielding itself from crisis effects. Nevertheless, in the national as well as international context, the official political discourse privileges the virtue of a totally deregulated and free market, combating any forms of state regulation.
Ireland
Ireland’s situation as a member of the euro zone and of the European banking system needs to be taken into account. This has involved substantial surrender of national sovereignty and autonomy in financial policy to the European Central Bank (ECB).

Ireland received only marginal relief on the debt burden it incurred to avert a European-wide banking crisis in 2008. However, in September 2014, euro zone finance ministers agreed to allow Ireland to refinance its debt based on its dramatically improved credit rating. This enabled it to use funds raised on the international bond market at interest rates near 2% to retire IMF debt carrying interest rates of close to 5%.

From evidence presented at the public hearings of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry in 2015 and published in the Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis’s Banking Inquiry Report 2016, it is clear that the ECB pressured Irish authorities not to “bail in” the bondholders of Irish banks that had failed. The motivation for this was to avert impairment of the balance sheets of German and French banks, which were significant investors in these Irish banks. It is contended in the report that the ECB exceeded its authority in pressuring one country to bear the cost of shielding banks in other euro zone countries from the consequences of their imprudent investment decisions. Jean Claude Trichet, the then president of the ECB, refused to give direct evidence to the Inquiry on the grounds that the ECB is accountable to the European Parliament and not to national parliaments. He did, however, take questions from members of the Inquiry and defended his 2008 actions at a public lecture he delivered in Dublin in April 2015.
Citations:
Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis (Banking Inquiry Report), January 2016.
Donal Donovan and Antoin E. Murphy The Fall of the Celtic Tiger Ireland and the Euro Debt Crisis (Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback 2014)
A posthumous biography of or tribute to the man who was Minister for Finance in 2008 sheds light on the interaction between Ireland the European institutions during the banking crisis:
Brian Lenihan in Calm and Crisis edited by Brian Murphy, Mary O’Rourke and Noel Whelan, Irish Academic Press 2014
Italy
The government and other public financial institutions (e.g., the Bank of Italy) have been generally supportive of international and European policies oriented to improve the regulation and supervision of financial markets. Typically for Italy, the government and the Bank of Italy have preferred a collective working style within the framework of EU and G7 institutions rather than embarking on uncoordinated, but highly visible initiatives. However, the government has occasionally failed to fully understand the implications for the economy and banking sector of the introduction of new international regulations. It has therefore not been fully prepared for the consequences of the new rules. The new government has not shown any great inclination to work cooperatively in European and international organizations.
Luxembourg
Since the opening and creation of the single European market in the 1970s, Luxembourg has been the most important actor in the European debt capital market, playing a major role in stimulating the international financial architecture.
Luxembourg performed relatively well in the global financial crisis. After saving DEXIA and Fortis, two domestically important banks, tax revenues have begun to rise again in recent years. Yet as a small country, Luxembourg’s economy remains strongly influenced by the general economic climate and international trends.

Luxembourg is a major financial center, with the banking and financial services industry (non-bank financial institutions), directly and indirectly contributing an estimated 30% to GDP. Consequently, the country was exposed to the effects of the economic crisis within the European Union. Furthermore, Luxembourg’s treatment of offshore accounts and capital assets by non-resident customers came under international scrutiny during that period. As a consequence, Luxembourg has developed new clusters, such as FinTech (new financial technology), to complement the traditional fields of work of the financial industry.

In the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Luxembourg is ranked 14 out of 186 countries. In the 2018 World Bank’s Doing Business report, Luxembourg ranked 63 out of 190 countries (2016: 61). Reflected in these rankings is the perception that Luxembourg has difficulties encouraging the founding of startups and creating new professions. In response, Luxembourg set up several opportunities for employees and created innovation centers to support startups.

The House of Startups (HoST), founded by the Chamber of Commerce in September 2017, opened its doors on 1 June 2018. With its central location in the capital, HoST is said to be an “innovation-fueling community” with an area of almost 6,000 square meters. The HoST’s missions are based on the following pillars: attracting and developing startups, and facilitating their integration into Luxembourg’s economy.
Citations:
Index of Economic Freedom 2018. https://www.heritage.org/index/pdf/2018/book/index_2018.pdf. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.

“Doing Business Report 2018.” World Bank Group 2018.
http://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Annual-Reports/English/DB2018-Full-Report.pdf. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.

Sinner, Michèle: “Geplant, geplant, geplant.” Land.lu, 14 October 2011. www.land.lu/page/article/847/4847/FRE/index.html. Accessed 22 Oct 2018.
Mexico
Given its experience with severe financial crises, Mexican governments over the last two decades have been keen to improve the regulation of the domestic financial sector. As a consequence, domestic financial regulation improved substantially, though it remains far from optimal. Mexican governments have also embraced an international effort to halt financial flows related to illegal drug production and trafficking. As part of its anti-drug smuggling policies, for example, money laundering has become more difficult. Yet as the prevalence of destabilizing domestic drug-related conflicts shows, the government is far from achieving its internal goals related to drug production and money laundering.

Despite government efforts, dealing with major financial inflows from illegal drug-related activities remains a major challenge in Mexico. On the positive side, the performance of Mexican banks (e.g., regarding the percentage of non-performing loans or banks’ risk-weighted assets) is currently in the midfield of the OECD average, according to IMF statistics. There may indeed be a danger of going too far the other way, since the lending policies of the country’s largest financial institutions have sometimes been criticized as being too conservative, constraining domestic economic growth.

The government has also more actively participated in international trade negotiations in an attempt to diversify the Mexican economy and reduce its dependence on the United States. While the government has had some success in this respect, the Mexican economy remains heavily dependent on its northern neighbor. Following doubts regarding the continued existence of the North American free trade area (which have subsequently been dispelled with the new announcement of a revised free trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada), this situation will not change in the foreseeable future.

Despite initial doubts about market confidence in the newly elected President López Obrador, the financial markets responded well to his election. Analysts attribute this to his promise to increase public investments in the industrial sector and to adhere to a strict austerity regime. Whether his government will be capable of managing a stable financial system and providing a more active public investment policy remains to be seen however.
Citations:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/07/06/market-already-happy-with-mexicos-new-president-amlo/#739cf6233a86
http://www.anterior.banxico.org.mx/sistema-financiero/indexEn.html
New Zealand
As a globally oriented country with a high degree of international economic integration, including financial market integration, New Zealand has a strong interest in promoting a stable, efficient and transparent international financial system. There is a commitment to preventing criminal financial activities, including tax evasion. The Inland Revenue department’s audit activities focus on cases in which multinationals appear to be avoiding taxes. Since 2016, New Zealand has been a member of the OECD initiative to allow all participating tax jurisdictions to exchange information on the economic activity of multinational corporations among participating countries. In 2017, it signed the OECD Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty-Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (known as the Multilateral Instrument). Both the National and the Labour-led governments entered into free trade agreements. For instance, in June 2017 New Zealand launched free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) and was an initiator of the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The Labour-led government announced its decision to proceed with TPP-11, after the United States had withdrawn from the TPP agreement. Furthermore, it has entered talks with the European Union concerning a FTA and has signaled an interest in a separate trade arrangement with Britain in the event that it leaves the EU.
Citations:
NZ joins country-by-country reporting. Tax Policy – Inland Revenue. 18 May 2016 (http://taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/news/2016-05-18-nz-joins-country-country-reporting) (accessed September 17, 2016).
New Zealand signs OECD Multilateral Instrument. Beehive. 8 June 2017. (https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new-zealand-signs-oecd-multilateral-instrument) (accessed 1 October 2017).
Poland
Poland has not been an agenda-setter with regard to the regulation of international financial markets and this has not changed with the current government. Poland’s previous PO-PSL government supported the idea of a financial-transaction tax, but opposed that of an EU banking union, PiS has a similar or even more nationally oriented stance in this respect. Poland’s financial sector has remained stable despite rapid expansion, as various stress tests have demonstrated. A new act on macro-prudential supervision over the financial system went into effect in November 2015 that broadened the mandate of the Financial Stability Committee.
Romania
Romania continues to be an active participant in the EU, the IMF and other international fora. The country’s ability to lead in these fora is limited by its rightful focus on internal economic development and stability.
Turkey
After 2016, the government’s overarching banking and finance goal has been to avoid a substantial economic slowdown. As a result, the government decided to relax prudential norms in the banking sector, reduce provisioning requirements for restructured loans in the tourism and energy sectors, and lower regulatory risk weights on consumer loans and credit cards. Credit growth has been substantial and the annual credit growth rate was 23.5% in September 2017 and 28.1% in September 2018. These measures have been criticized by the IMF’s latest Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) report, which advised the Turkish government to strengthen banking sector supervision and governance, and enhance the regulatory framework for financial services. According to the “New Economic Program 2019 –2021” announced in September 2018, the banking sector will be considered sound if it achieves a capital adequacy ratio of 16.2% and non-performing loan ratio of 3%. But the program emphasized the need for a “health assessment” in the banking sector to identify the financial structure and asset quality.

The combination of trade deficits, renewed budgetary deficits, low interest rates and inflation pressures have exposed Turkey’s currency, and made it extremely vulnerable to currency market turbulences. The very belated decision of the Turkish authorities to strengthen the Turkish lira by adopting a high-interest rate policy on 13 September 2018 underlines the ongoing unwillingness of President Erdoğan to truly accept central bank independence.
Citations:
G20 country report, Turkey 2017, http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/Content/DE/Downloads/G20-Dokumente/Hamburg _Wachstumsstrategien/TUR-Growth-Strategy.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3



USA
Prior to the Trump presidency, the United States had generally promoted prudent financial services regulation at the international level. This includes participation in international reform efforts at the G-20, in the Financial Stability Board (FSB), and in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCSC). U.S. negotiators played a major role in developing the Basel III capital rules adopted in June 2011, as well as the liquidity rules adopted in January 2013. The global nature of the 2008 financial crisis necessitated a multilateral approach and the promotion of a robust financial-policy architecture. The Obama administration took the initiative in transforming the G-20 into a new enlarged “steering group” for global financial policy.
With respect to the national regulatory framework, U.S. regulatory bodies had been developing rules required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. U.S. regulators generally preferred stronger rules than international standards required (e.g., on the regulation of derivatives). However, lobbying by the powerful financial services industry had weakened U.S. standards. In a major change of direction, the Trump administration and Republican Congress partially repealed the Dodd-Frank Act; the repeal gutted the Volcker rule (prohibiting banks from making certain investments for their own accounts). The administration has abandoned support for the development or implementation of international standards. On the domestic side, it has largely abandoned enforcement activity of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. The result has been a resumption of some of the risky, potentially destabilizing banking practices that led to the financial crisis.
Citations:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/curtains-for-global-financial-regulation-1492037557
 
The government rarely contributes to improving the regulation and supervision of financial markets. It seldom demonstrates initiative or responsibility in such endeavors.
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Czechia
Czechia is not a significant player in international financial affairs. Its main banks are foreign-owned, and their independent international involvement is very limited. The country also did not participate in reforming the international financial system, preferring to see itself as a follower of initiatives developed elsewhere. While the Sobotka government made a turn from the euroskeptic policy of previous governments toward a more mainstream view of EU economic policy, neither the Ministry of Finance nor the Czech National Bank have come out in favor of accession to the EU Banking Union. The Babiš government has removed joining the euro zone from the agenda.
Iceland
In part because of its small size, Iceland has never sought to make a substantial contribution to the improvement of the international financial, or other comparable international institutional, framework. However, the government has taken significant steps to address the extreme instability of the domestic financial system, including steps that have attracted international attention and have been held out as an example for other countries.

The post-crash 2009 – 2013 government significantly strengthened the Financial Supervisory Authority (FME) and established a Special Prosecutor’s Office. The Special Prosecutor’s Office was charged with investigating legal violations related to the financial crash, including breach of trust, insider trading, market manipulation, fraud, and false reporting. By late 2018, the Supreme Court had sentenced 36 individuals (30 bankers, 3 executives, 2 auditors and a cabinet secretary in the finance ministry) to a total of 88 years in prison for crash-related offenses, with an average jail term of 2.5 years. The 88 years of total prison time have not been evenly divided among the banks, however: Kaupthing got 32 years, Glitnir got 19, Landsbanki got 11 years, Savings and Loans got 12 years, and others 14. The uneven distribution of sentences across the three main banks (even if they were very much alike) may create concerns about unequal justice. At the end of 2015, the Special Prosecutor’s Office was merged with the District Prosecutor’s Office under the directorship of the former Special Prosecutor.

The government has sought to strengthen financial supervision by encouraging the FME to impose tougher standards. For example, prior to the crash, the owners of the banks were their largest borrowers. This is no longer the case. Further, banks commonly provided loans without collateral, but this practice has since stopped. It was common practice to extend loans to well-connected customers to purchase equities, with the equities themselves as sole collateral. Presumably, this is no longer being done. However, other practices have not ceased. For example, banks continue to be accused of acting in a discriminatory and nontransparent manner with some privileged customers allowed to write off large debts, while others are not, without appropriate justification for discriminating among customers. A number of Iceland’s most prominent business figures avoided bankruptcy following the crash because banks annulled their losses. Due to bank secrecy, such debt write-offs are impossible to ascertain. Under new management, since the proactive director of the FME was replaced in 2012, the FME lacks strong and clear leadership. The FME has once again adopted a passive, non-intrusive strategic approach. According to a February 2018 Gallup poll, the banks are the least trusted institutions in Iceland. Only 20% of respondents expressed confidence in the banks, compared with 29% confidence in the parliament and 28% confidence in the FME. The government decided in late 2018 to incorporate the FME into the central bank, marking a return to the arrangement that produced weak bank supervision in the past.

The government has yet to propose a plan for the reorganization of the banking system. This means that the future ownership structure of the banks remains uncertain, particularly the division between private and public ownership as well as between foreign and domestic ownership. Foreign competition in the banking sector remains absent, offering huge monopoly rents to bank owners, a unique feature of Icelandic banking which helps explain why bank ownership is so coveted among Iceland’s clan-based business elite.
Citations:
Jensdóttir, Jenný S. (2017), “Ákærur og dómar vegna hrunmála” (Indictments and Verdicts in Crash-related Cases), Gagnsæi (Transparency), Samtök gegn spillingu (Alliance against Corruption), http://www.gagnsaei.is/2017/12
/29/domar1/. Accessed 18 December 2018.

Gylfason, Thorvaldur (2018), “Ten Years After: Iceland’s Unfinished Business,” forthcoming in Robert Z. Aliber and Gylfi Zoega (eds.), The 2008 Global Financial Crisis in Retrospect, Palgrave. Also available as CESifo Working Paper No. 7318, November 2018.

https://www.gallup.is/nidurstodur/thjodarpuls/traust-til-stofnana/. Accessed 21 December 2018.
Japan
Developing initiatives for the reform of the global financial architecture has not been a high-priority issue for Japan. For example, the prime minister used the agenda-setting powers provided by the 2016 G-7 meeting in Japan primarily to push his domestic political agenda.

On the regional and plurilateral level, Japan’s influence has been somewhat eclipsed by China, as China is heavily involved in creating a number of new international financial institutions such as the (BRICS) New Development Bank, the BRICS Reserve Contingency Arrangement, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Japan initially elected not to join the latter. In early 2017, government sources indicated that this position could be reconsidered, but no substantial policy changes have since emerged.

For the time being, Japan has become a follower rather than a leader with regard to global and regional (financial) initiatives, despite the pressing urgency of the issues.
Citations:
LDP executive says Japan needs to soon join the AIIB, The Asahi Shimbun, 16 May 2017, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705160020.html
Portugal
Portugal is a peripheral country, which limits its ability to contribute to the effective regulation and supervision of the international financial architecture. Moreover, the risk associated with the country’s high deficits and public debt has led successive governments since the new millennium to focus overwhelmingly on achieving fiscal sustainability and financial stability, most notably during the 2011 – 2014 bailout period. In the post-bailout period, Portuguese governments have sought to play a bigger role in contributing to EU debates on regulation. Their effectiveness and role have been enhanced by Portugal’s status as a bailout “success story,” and further reinforced by the election of Minister of Finance Mário Centeno as president of the Eurogroup.
Citations:
Success story which enhances status as expert says in last sentence above is found in Liz Alderman, “Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival,” New York Times “Business Day” July 23, 2018.
South Korea
While the vulnerability of the Korean financial system has declined considerably since the 2008 crisis, risks still remain, particularly with regard to the country’s weakly regulated non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). Household debt, largely resulting from real-estate price inflation over the last two decades, is a huge problem, although the rate of non-performing loans remains low.
With regard to international engagement, South Korea is implementing international financial-regulation rules such as the Basel III framework. Although it is a member of the G-20, it does not typically take the initiative or actively promote new regulations internationally. Under the Moon administration, South Korea has focused its foreign policies on North Korea, along with the bilateral relationships with the United States and China that are most important in this area. The administration has correspondingly put less emphasis on multilateral coordination mechanisms such as the G-20.
Citations:
Lee, Jiyeun. 2018. “S.Korea’s Household Debt Hits Record $1,3 Trillion in 2017.” Bloomberg, February 22. Retrieved September 28, 2018 (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-22/s-korea-s-household-debt-hits-record-1-3-trillion-in-2017)
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Bulgaria
As a member of the European Union and the European System of Central Banks, Bulgaria participates in the discussions on the regulation of international financial markets. In mid-2018, the country expressed a desire to join the European banking union and is now undergoing preparatory assessments. This development may make the Bulgarian government more proactive in the sphere of international financial architecture, although this has not happened yet.
Croatia
The accession of Croatia to the EU has brought greater integration of the financial system. The EU’s single passport system for financial institutions allows banks regulated by their home country authority to set up branches in Croatia. Previously, foreign banks were only allowed to establish subsidiaries under the regulatory supervision of the Croatian National Bank. With the passing of domestic regulatory authority from the Croatian National Bank to that of the foreign banks’ home country, an important protection for the Croatian financial system has been removed. This renders the Croatian financial system more vulnerable and increases the risk of cross-border contagion in the event of a new financial crisis. While Croatia is rather vulnerable to developments on the global financial markets, its governments have not played a major role in global attempts at reforming the international financial system. Nor have they cracked down on money laundering. Croatia is part of the “Balkan route,” a major trade corridor where trade-based money laundering takes place. The Anti-Money-Laundering Office is understaffed and the rate of convictions for money-laundering offenses remains relatively low.

The Croatian National Bank produces an annual Financial Stability Report. However, this focuses mainly on domestic issues. The latest report declared that the banks remain well capitalized and financial stability had not been put at risk by the adverse events surrounding the Agrokor Group.
Citations:
Croatian National Bank (2018): Financial Stability, No. 19. Zagreb (https://www.hnb.hr/en/-/financijska-stabilnost-19).
Cyprus
Beginning in the 1980s, Cyprus developed as an important financial center. Prior to EU membership, effective monitoring of the market and enforcement of international standards had been a major challenge. It remained a challenge even after a clearer regulatory framework assigned institutions with specific tasks, with key bodies being the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS). Following the 2013 economic collapse, the country’s banking system implemented a stricter framework against money laundering. Risks and vulnerabilities do remain, however, mainly emanating from international business activities, in particular banking and real-estate transactions. Legal constraints on dealers of foreign currency, restrictions on foreign ownership of property and the limited role of cash in transactions have minimized laundering risks.

Amendments to laws on money laundering and terrorism-related activities have aimed to align with EU directives. These further strengthen the deterrence regime, enhancing the powers of financial-sector-supervisory authorities to ensure legal compliance. One deterrence measure is the seizing of property acquired through unlawful activities. Since January 2017, Cyprus is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard for information exchange.

Bank-oversight mechanisms have also been enhanced to avoid past transgressions, when institutions simply failed to follow rules governing large exposures and minimum capital and liquidity, resulting in the taking on of unsustainable levels of non-performing loans (NPLs). New laws passed in mid-2018 aim at facilitating the resolution of challenges related to NPLs while attempting to protect indebted households.

In its March 2018 semester report, the European Commission observed a high degree of compliance with the EU supervisory framework. However, a report by Transparency International in October 2018 pointed to the increased potential for corruption through the citizenship by investment scheme.
Citations:
1. European Commission semester report, Cyprus, March 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2018-european-semester-country-report-cyprus-en.pdf
2. A European Getaway, Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas, Transparency International, 2018, https://www.globalwitness.org/documents/19468/REPORT_European_Getaway_Inside_the_Murky_World_of_Golden_Visas_10_October_2018.pdf
Hungary
Being neither a member of the euro group nor a big lender, Hungary’s role in international financial markets is limited. The Orbán government has recently emphasized its commitment to euro zone membership, although it is not clear whether this reflects genuine political will or is merely rhetoric. As the country is on its way to meeting the Maastricht criteria, an introduction of the euro seems possible.
Slovenia
Compared to most other East-Central European countries, the degree of foreign ownership within the Slovenian financial sector has remained low. Like its predecessors, the Cerar government has not contributed actively to improving the regulation and supervision of international financial markets. Instead, it has focused on addressing financial problems within the Slovenian banking sector by implementing the bad-bank scheme devised by the Janša government. Established in March 2013, the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) has taken over non-performing loans in exchange for bonds backed by state guarantees. The persistent involvement of the Slovenian state in the financial sector still entails some risks for financial stability.
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Greece
Greece, a rather small European economy which remains in the midst of a crisis of its own, is not in a position to take initiatives to monitor the global economic environment. For example, regarding non-performing bank loans, Greece is the worst among all OECD countries. All lending by banks primarily concerns the domestic market rather than international financial markets. Non-performing loans, rising steeply after the crisis hit Greece, remain a major impediment to economic recovery. At the end of 2017, Greek banks carried €96 billion in non-performing loans. This amount was, however, €13 billion smaller than at its peak in March 2016. The banks plan to reduce this burden by €30 billion before the end of 2019.

In its capacity as an EU member state, Greece has participated in EU-driven efforts to regulate the global economic environment. Greece has also argued in European forums in favor of a more regulated system for financial markets.
Citations:
Data on non-performing loans is provided by the SGI data set, available on this platform and The Economist, https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2018/05/31/a-critical-task-for-the-greek-economy-enters-a-new-phase
 
The government does not contribute to improving the regulation and supervision of financial markets.
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