No Stress: The flaws in the Bank of England’s stress testing programme

In 2014, the Bank of England commenced a stress testing programme in an effort to test the capital adequacy of major UK-based banks. It concluded that its results demonstrated the resilience of the banking system. No Stress, a report from the Adam Smith Institute, suggests that we should be extremely sceptical of the Bank’s conclusions.

The report sees Kevin Dowd, Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, professor of finance and economics at Durham University, and author of three books, ten book chapters, and dozens of journal articles on risk modelling, present a powerful and rigorous indictment of the Bank’s stress testing programme.

Dowd makes the case that the stress tests are significantly methodologically flawed and worse than useless, giving policymakers unreliable information about the strength of the UK banking system, providing false risk comfort, and creating systemic instability by forcing banks to converge towards the Bank of England’s models.

For these reasons and more, he concludes that we should end regulatory risk modelling and re-establish strong bank governance systems that make decision-makers personally liable for the risks they take.

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Quids In: How sterlingization and free banking could help Scotland flourish

An independent Scotland using the pound outside of a currency union would have a more stable financial system and economy than it has now or than a currency union could provide, argues Sam Bowman. ‘Adaptive sterlingization’ – a combined policy of unilateral use of GBP without a formal currency union and reform of Scottish banking regulations – would reduce risk-taking and increase competition in banking, significantly reducing the prospect of large-scale bank panics and financial crises. The ‘dollarized’ economies of Latin America – Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador – provide strong modern-day evidence that banking systems do better without central lenders of last resort.

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Saving the City

Despite all the heated exchanges over UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU, whether the UK stays in or leaves the EU may not be critical for the City. Far more important, says Tim Ambler, is the need to create a single global market for financial services. In such a global market, the potential for such a leading-edge financial services provider as London is unlimited.

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Bubble trouble

The US Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Standard and Poor’s is misguided, says our legal writer Lawsmith. It was the market’s confidence in the ratings agencies that was at fault, not the agencies themselves.

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