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Bank Regulation and Supervision

What Works Best?

Gerard Caprio, Ross Levine, James Barth

Paper  159kb pdf

This paper draws on our new database on bank regulation and supervision in 107 countries to assess different governmental approaches to bank regulation and supervision and to evaluate the efficacy of specific regulatory and supervisory policies. First, we assess two broad and competing theories of government regulation: the helping-hand approach, according to which governments regulate to correct market failures, and the grabbing-hand approach, according to which governments regulate to support political constituencies.

Second, we assess the impact of an extensive array of specific regulatory and supervisory practices on banking-sector development and fragility. These policies include regulations on bank activities and the mixing of banking and commerce; regulations on domestic and foreign bank entry; regulations on capital adequacy; deposit insurance system design features; supervisory power, independence, resources, loan classification stringency, provisioning standards, diversification guidelines, and prompt corrective action powers; regulations on information disclosure and fostering private-sector monitoring of banks; and government ownership of banks.

The results raise a cautionary flag regarding reform strategies that place excessive reliance on country’s adhering to an extensive checklist of regulatory and supervisory practices that involve direct government oversight of and restrictions on banks. The findings, which are much more consistent with the grabbing-hand view than the helping-hand view of regulation, suggest that regulatory and supervisory practices that (1) force accurate information disclosure, (2) empower private-sector corporate control of banks, and (3) foster incentives for private agents to exert corporate control work best to promote bank performance and stability.

About the Authors

Gerard Caprio
Professor of Economics and Chair of the Center for Development Economics
Williams College

Ross Levine
James and Merryl Tisch Professor of Economics
Brown University

James Barth
Inter-American Development Bank

Publication Information

Type Network Paper
Program Financial Markets Reform
Posted 08/01/01
Download 159kb pdf