Passport

Swiss banks as a model for financial regulation?

Political leaders around the world are trying to restrict banking bonuses given for short-term gains, which encourage the kind of reckless risk-taking that helped trigger the recession. And in a strange twist, the National Post says that to develop tougher regulations, everyone should look to Swiss banks -- more commonly associated with allegations of fraud and a notoriously adamant defense of clients' secrecy. Back in 2005, Credit Suisse developed a "performance incentive plan" that includes most of the banking bonus reforms discussed at the G20 summit. Credit Suisse mandated the paying of bonuses in shares, over longer periods of time and with a provision that "claws back" bonuses paid for deals that ultimately go sour.

European leaders are starting to follow suit; Britain's five largest banks have agreed to publish the pay of their key staff members, and will spread bonus payments over three years. French president Sarkozy has announced a set of even tougher and more broadly applied regulations.

Of course, not everyone thinks that bonus reforms are the way to go. Nobel prize-winning conomist Robert F. Engle III says

We shouldn't ban bonuses, but restructure the way they're paid so they're more commensurate with the risk the company is taking....What's important is we give the banking system the right incentives to figure this out. When companies get too big and too complex to fail, they would face a higher tax rate, which would go into a rescue fund. The banks are not excited about it, they would rather go back to business as usual."

Comments

Load More Comments