Basel I

Basel I

Basel I is the round of deliberations by central bankers from around the world, and in 1988, the Basel Committee (BCBS) in Basel, Switzerland, published a set of minimal capital requirements for banks. This is also known as the 1988 Basel Accord, and was enforced by law in the Group of Ten (G-10) countries in 1992, with Japanese banks permitted an extended transition period. Basel I is now widely viewed as outmoded, and a more comprehensive set of guidelines, known as Basel II are in the process of implementation by several countries.

Background

The Committee was formed in response to the messy liquidation of a Cologne-based bank in 1974.On 26 June 1974, a number of banks had released Deutschmark to the Bank Herstatt in exchange for dollar payments deliverable in New York. On account of differences in the time zones, there was a lag in the dollar payment to the counter-party banks, and during this gap, and before the dollar payments could be effected in New York, the Bank Herstatt was liquidated by German regulators.

This incident prompted the G-10 nations to form towards the end of 1974, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, under the auspices of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) located in Basel, Switzerland.

Main framework

Basel I, that is, the 1988 Basel Accord, primarily focused on credit risk. Assets of banks were classified and grouped in five categories according to credit risk, carrying risk weights of zero (for example home country sovereign debt), ten, twenty, fifty, and up to one hundred percent (this category has, as an example, most corporate debt). Banks with international presence are required to hold capital equal to 8 % of the risk-weighted assets.

Since 1988, this framework has been progressively introduced in member countries of G-10, currently comprising 13 countries, namely, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Most other countries, currently numbering over 100, have also adopted, at least in name, the principles prescribed under Basel I. The efficiency with which they are enforced varies, even within nations of the Group of Ten.

References

* [http://www.bis.org The site of the Bank of International Settlements] .
* [http://bis2information.org Practical articles, on BIS2 and risk modelling, submitted by professionals to help create an industry standard] .


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