Criticism was directed at US bank regulators in the European Union after the collapse of SVB Bank

  • Regulators and officials across the European Union were concerned about possible contagion of their banking sectors after the recent turmoil in the United States.
  • However, they believe that the United States should learn from some of the regulatory actions implemented in the eurozone.
  • Basel III is a set of reforms that strengthen supervision and risk management of banks and has been in development since 2008.
  • This applies to most European banks, but US lenders with balance sheets of less than $250 billion don’t have to follow suit.

European Central Bank Supervisory Board President Andrea Enria and European Banking Authority (EBA) President José Manuel Campa at the European Parliament on March 21, 2023.

Thierry Mons | Getty Images News | Getty Images

US regulators made mistakes in failing to prevent the collapse of the Silicon Valley bank and other financial institutions, according to EU lawmakers who believe this is also a moment for some self-assessment in Europe.

Silvergate Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused bank, was the first to fall, and said on March 8 that it would go out of business. Soon after, a Silicon Valley bank failed after running out of deposits. Then Signature Bank, which focused on lending to real estate companies, saw deposit outflows prompting regulators to take over the bank to prevent contagion across the sector.

Since then, First Republic Bank has also received support from other banks amid fears of a broader shock to the financial system. And in Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, the authorities had to bail out Credit Suisse by asking UBS to intervene in a takeover.

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Meanwhile, regulators and officials across the European Union were concerned about possible contagion of their banking sector. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that European banks were in the depths of the global financial crisis.

There is no direct reading of American events [the] Andrea Enrea, head of the European Central Bank’s supervisory board, said on Tuesday that important banks are in the eurozone. Like him, a group of officials have made efforts to stress that the European banking system is in a much better lot compared to 2008.

The United States lacks some controls.

Paul Tang

A legislator in the European Parliament

This reinforces the view in the EU that the US should learn from some of the regulatory work that has been put in place in the eurozone since the financial crisis.

“You need stronger regulation… In this sense, the US lacks some controls,” Paul Tang, a lawmaker and member of the European Parliament’s Economic Committee, told CNBC.

Asked if US regulators made some mistakes and thus failed to prevent the recent banking turmoil, he said: “I definitely think so, you need to scrutinize. That was the message from 2008.”

At the heart of European policymaking, in Brussels, an official, who did not wish to be named because of the sensitive nature of the matter, told CNBC that several meetings between EU officials in recent days “underscored the failures of regulation.” [in the U.S.] Especially when compared to the European Union.

One major difference is that the US has a more relaxed set of capital rules for smaller banks.

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“The main difference is the Basel III requirements,” Stephanie Yon-Courtin, MEP, told CNBC. “These banking rules apply to very few banks – and therein lies the problem,” she said.

Basel III is a set of reforms that strengthen supervision and risk management of banks and has been in development since 2008.

This applies to most European banks, but US lenders with balance sheets of less than $250 billion don’t have to follow suit.

Despite some criticism of US regulators, the EU understands that this is not the time for inaction. “We have to remain vigilant,” said Jon Curtin. “We have to be careful and make sure these rules are still fit for purpose,” she added, calling for constant monitoring of the rulebook.

One of the main discussions in the European Union in recent days has actually been the need to improve the European Banking Union – a set of laws introduced in 2014 to make European banks more powerful.

It was a politically sensitive debate, but the fact that high interest rates remain has made it all the more important.

“We are well aware that the continued rapid normalization of monetary policy conditions increases our banks’ exposure to interest rate risk,” said Enria, chair of the ECB’s supervisory board, on Tuesday.

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