Basel II

Basel II is the second of the Basel Accords, (now extended and effectively superseded by Basel III), which are recommendations on banking laws and regulations issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Basel II, initially published in June 2004, was intended to create an international standard for banking regulators to control how much capital banks need to put aside to guard against the types of financial and operational risks banks (and the whole economy) face. One focus was to maintain sufficient consistency of regulations so that this does not become a source of competitive inequality amongst internationally active banks. Advocates of Basel II believed that such an international standard could help protect the international financial system from the types of problems that might arise should a major bank or a series of banks collapse. In theory, Basel II attempted to accomplish this by setting up risk and capital management requirements designed to ensure that a bank has adequate capital for the risk the bank exposes itself to through its lending and investment practices. Generally speaking, these rules mean that the greater risk to which the bank is exposed, the greater the amount of capital the bank needs to hold to safeguard its solvency and overall economic stability.

Politically, it was difficult to implement Basel II in the regulatory environment prior to 2008, and progress was generally slow until that year's major banking crisis caused mostly by credit default swaps, mortgage-backed security markets and similar derivatives. As Basel III was negotiated, this was top of mind, and accordingly much more stringent standards were contemplated, and quickly adopted in some key countries including the USA.

Read more about Basel IIObjective, The Accord in Operation, Basel II and The Regulators, Basel II and The Global Financial Crisis

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