Monday, June 21, 2010

Risk and capital

Banks face a number of risks in order to conduct their business, and how well these risks are managed and understood is a key driver behind profitability, and how much capital a bank is required to hold. Some of the main risks faced by banks include:

Credit risk: risk of loss arising from a borrower who does not make payments as promised.
Liquidity risk: risk that a given security or asset cannot be traded quickly enough in the market to prevent a loss (or make the required profit).
Operational risk: risk arising from execution of a company's business functions.
Market risk: risk that the value of a portfolio, either an investment portfolio or a trading portfolio, will decrease due to the change in value of the market risk factors.
The capital requirement is a bank regulation, which sets a framework on how banks and depository institutions must handle their capital. The categorization of assets and capital is highly standardized so that it can be risk weighted.

Banks in the economy

The economic functions of banks include:

1.issue of money, in the form of banknotes and current accounts subject to cheque or payment at the customer's order. These claims on banks can act as money because they are negotiable and/or repayable on demand, and hence valued at par. They are effectively transferable by mere delivery, in the case of banknotes, or by drawing a cheque that the payee may bank or cash.
2.netting and settlement of payments – banks act as both collection and paying agents for customers, participating in interbank clearing and settlement systems to collect, present, be presented with, and pay payment instruments. This enables banks to economise on reserves held for settlement of payments, since inward and outward payments offset each other. It also enables the offsetting of payment flows between geographical areas, reducing the cost of settlement between them. intermediation – banks borrow and lend back-to-back on their own account as middle men. quality improvement – banks lend money to ordinary commercial and personal borrowers (ordinary credit quality), but are high quality borrowers. The improvement comes from diversification of the bank's assets and capital which provides a buffer to absorb losses without defaulting on its obligations. However, banknotes and deposits are generally unsecured; if the bank gets into difficulty and pledges assets as security, to raise the funding it needs to continue to operate, this puts the note holders and depositors in an economically subordinated position.
5.maturity transformation – banks borrow more on demand debt and short term debt, but provide more long term loans. In other words, they borrow short and lend long. With a stronger credit quality than most other borrowers, banks can do this by aggregating issues (e.g. accepting deposits and issuing banknotes) and redemptions (e.g. withdrawals and redemptions of banknotes), maintaining reserves of cash, investing in marketable securities that can be readily converted to cash if needed, and raising replacement funding as needed from various sources (e.g. wholesale cash markets and securities markets).

Bank crisis

Banks are susceptible to many forms of risk which have triggered occasional systemic crises. These include liquidity risk (where many depositors may request withdrawals beyond available funds), credit risk (the chance that those who owe money to the bank will not repay it), and interest rate risk (the possibility that the bank will become unprofitable, if rising interest rates force it to pay relatively more on its deposits than it receives on its loans).

Banking crises have developed many times throughout history, when one or more risks have materialized for a banking sector as a whole. Prominent examples include the bank run that occurred during the Great Depression, the U.S. Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Japanese banking crisis during the 1990s, and the subprime mortgage crisis in the 2000s.

Size of global banking industry

Assets of the largest 1,000 banks in the world grew by 6.8% in the 2008/2009 financial year to a record $96.4 trillion while profits declined by 85% to $115bn. Growth in assets in adverse market conditions was largely a result of recapitalisation. EU banks held the largest share of the total, 56% in 2008/2009, down from 61% in the previous year. Asian banks' share increased from 12% to 14% during the year, while the share of US banks increased from 11% to 13%. Fee revenue generated by global investment banking totalled $66.3bn in 2009, up 12% on the previous year. [10]

The United States has the most banks in the world in terms of institutions (7,085 at the end of 2008) and possibly branches (82,000).[citation needed] This is an indicator of the geography and regulatory structure of the USA, resulting in a large number of small to medium-sized institutions in its banking system. As of Nov 2009, China's top 4 banks have in excess of 67,000 branches (ICBC:18000+, BOC:12000+, CCB:13000+, ABC:24000+) with an additional 140 smaller banks with an undetermined number of branches. Japan had 129 banks and 12,000 branches. In 2004, Germany, France, and Italy each had more than 30,000 branches—more than double the 15,000 branches in the UK.[10]


Currently in most jurisdictions commercial banks are regulated by government entities and require a special bank licence to operate.

Usually the definition of the business of banking for the purposes of regulation is extended to include acceptance of deposits, even if they are not repayable to the customer's order—although money lending, by itself, is generally not included in the definition.

Unlike most other regulated industries, the regulator is typically also a participant in the market, i.e. a government-owned (central) bank. Central banks also typically have a monopoly on the business of issuing banknotes. However, in some countries this is not the case. In the UK, for example, the Financial Services Authority licences banks, and some commercial banks (such as the Bank of Scotland) issue their own banknotes in addition to those issued by the Bank of England, the UK government's central bank.

Banking law is based on a contractual analysis of the relationship between the bank (defined above) and the customer—defined as any entity for which the bank agrees to conduct an account.

The law implies rights and obligations into this relationship as follows:

1.The bank account balance is the financial position between the bank and the customer: when the account is in credit, the bank owes the balance to the customer; when the account is overdrawn, the customer owes the balance to the bank.
2.The bank agrees to pay the customer's cheques up to the amount standing to the credit of the customer's account, plus any agreed overdraft limit.
3.The bank may not pay from the customer's account without a mandate from the customer, e.g. a cheque drawn by the customer.
4.The bank agrees to promptly collect the cheques deposited to the customer's account as the customer's agent, and to credit the proceeds to the customer's account.
5.The bank has a right to combine the customer's accounts, since each account is just an aspect of the same credit relationship.
6.The bank has a lien on cheques deposited to the customer's account, to the extent that the customer is indebted to the bank.
7.The bank must not disclose details of transactions through the customer's account—unless the customer consents, there is a public duty to disclose, the bank's interests require it, or the law demands it.
8.The bank must not close a customer's account without reasonable notice, since cheques are outstanding in the ordinary course of business for several days.
These implied contractual terms may be modified by express agreement between the customer and the bank. The statutes and regulations in force within a particular jurisdiction may also modify the above terms and/or create new rights, obligations or limitations relevant to the bank-customer relationship.

Some types of financial institution, such as building societies and credit unions, may be partly or wholly exempt from bank licence requirements, and therefore regulated under separate rules.

The requirements for the issue of a bank licence vary between jurisdictions but typically include:

1.Minimum capital
2.Minimum capital ratio
3.'Fit and Proper' requirements for the bank's controllers, owners, directors, and/or senior officers
4.Approval of the bank's business plan as being sufficiently prudent and plausible.

Types of banks

Banks' activities can be divided into retail banking, dealing directly with individuals and small businesses; business banking, providing services to mid-market business; corporate banking, directed at large business entities; private banking, providing wealth management services to high net worth individuals and families; and investment banking, relating to activities on the financial markets. Most banks are profit-making, private enterprises. However, some are owned by government, or are non-profit organizations.

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