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The need for government and central bank intervention in financial regulation: Free banking and the challenges of information uncertainty

Ojo, Marianne (2010): The need for government and central bank intervention in financial regulation: Free banking and the challenges of information uncertainty.

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Abstract

Through a focus on the ever increasing need to address information asymmetries, as well as reference to the uniqueness of the degree to which systemic risks are triggered in banking, this paper aims primarily to highlight reasons why government and central bank intervention are essential and required in financial regulation.

The role presently assumed by regulation is not the same as it was thirty years ago. Deregulation and conglomeration have significantly altered the landscape in which regulation previously existed and to an extent, defined the role which it presently assumes. For this reason, arguments which were (and have been) directed against government, central bank intervention, as well as the role of regulation, require re-evaluation.

Deposit insurance and lender of last resort arrangements serve to instil confidence in depositors hence contributing towards safeguarding system stability and preventing unnecessary runs where panics occur. Such benefits are not only considered against those arguments advanced by antagonists of deposit insurance and lender of last resort arrangements, but also against those views which do not favour government and central bank intervention. In evaluating whether free banking is equipped with as many mechanisms and safeguards required in safeguarding the stability of the financial system, the urgency for such safety net instruments, which is attributed to the peculiar and unique nature of banking, will be considered. Contrary to the argument [that “if markets are generally better at allocating resources than governments are, then the differences or distinctions which exist between “money” and the industry that provides it (the banking industry) should not serve as bases for an assumption that money and banking are exceptions to the general rule”], it has to be highlighted (for several reasons) that the banking industry could not be equated to other areas of the financial sector. One of such reasons relates to the extent to which the impact of systemic runs differ within the banking sector when compared to other areas such as the securities markets.

The differences in the nature of risks which exist in banking and those which exist within the securities markets, constitutes another reason why the need for government and central bank intervention is advocated. Furthermore, even though the nature of banking risks warrants government and central bank intervention – as well as capital adequacy regulation, capital regulation should also be extended to the securities markets for many reasons – one of which is the ability to securitise assets.

If there was no longer a role for regulation, then re- regulation should not have occurred in certain jurisdictions which have adopted and successfully implemented consolidated supervision.

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