Swiss financial regulations not yet tough enough post-Credit Suisse, SNB says By StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 11 min read

ZURICH (StuffsEarth) -Switzerland’s financial regulations need further strengthening following the takeover of Credit Suisse by UBS, the Swiss National Bank said on Thursday, pressing for more to be done on capital and liquidity requirements.

Credit Suisse roiled financial markets last year when it collapsed following a string of financial problems, and was absorbed by its old rival UBS in a state-engineered rescue.

That fed concerns that the enlarged UBS posed risks for the Swiss economy and prompted the government to propose tougher regulations for banks deemed “too big to fail” in April.

At the heart of the plan were proposals to have UBS hold more capital, but they still face a long political process.

In its annual financial stability report, the SNB said it shared the governing Federal Council’s view on the need for action on capital requirements, liquidity requirements, early intervention, and recovery and resolution planning.

“The crisis at Credit Suisse has highlighted weaknesses in the regulatory framework,” the report stated.

“The current capitalisation of the combined UBS parent bank is stronger than that of the Credit Suisse parent bank before the crisis. Still, the weaknesses of the current regime remain and should be addressed,” the central bank said.

The SNB in particular backed implementation of the government proposals in three areas of capital regulation.

Firstly, it saw a need to strengthen the contribution of the Additional Tier 1 (AT1) instruments to stabilising a bank as a going concern. AT1 bonds act as shock absorbers if a bank’s capital levels fall below a certain threshold.

In addition, the central bank said, the “prudent calculation” of Common Equity Tier 1 capital should be strengthened, as should the capital regime for parent banks.

“Even with the above-mentioned improvements to the architecture of capital regulation, regulatory ratios remain to a large extent a static measure and should be complemented by elements that contain forward-looking components, such as a bank’s expected profitability,” the SNB said.

The SNB also supported a review of the liquidity coverage ratio, a key measure to gauge a bank’s ability to meet its cash demands, after the outflows of retail deposits during the Credit Suisse crisis were larger and faster than the ratio assumed.

The bank noted that market indicators, such as credit default swap premiums and UBS’s share price, suggested that the market is taking a positive view of the bank’s prospects.

On Wednesday, Switzerland’s financial regulator FINMA said the UBS takeover of Credit Suisse did not create any competition concerns, despite recommendations from the country’s antitrust watchdog that it merited further scrutiny.

The SNB observed that UBS is in the process of revising its crisis preparedness following the Credit Suisse takeover, and will submit its emergency plans to FINMA for review.

The SNB noted that since January, systemically important banks have had to comply with new liquidity requirements. These addressed some, but not all, of the weaknesses that materialised during the Credit Suisse crisis, the SNB said.

Adjustments could ensure adequate backing of large retail deposits with high-quality liquid assets (HQLA), it noted.

This could strengthen incentives for banks to channel short-term customer deposits into longer-term types of funding, such as by offering higher interest on term deposits, because longer-term funding types do not have to be backed by HQLA, it said.

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