On 14 October, the Bank of England published a speech given by Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor Financial Stability, at the Institute of International Finance 2013 Annual Membership meeting on 12 October 2013 on the subject of ‘too big to fail’.
Mr Tucker made five general points:
- The US authorities could resolve most US SIFIs right now on a ‘top-down’ basis pursuant to the powers granted under Title II of the Dodd Frank Act;
- Single Point of Entry (SPE) versus Multiple Point of Entry (MPE) may be the most important innovation in banking policy in decades;
- There is no such thing as a “bail-in bond”. Bail in is a resolution tool. All creditors can face having to absorb losses. What matters is the creditor hierarchy;
- Some impediments to smooth cross-border resolution need to be removed; and
- The resolution agenda is not just about banks and dealers. It is about central counterparties too, for example.
Mr Tucker noted that Europe is not far behind the US in its enactment of resolution powers. However, of more interest to the industry will be his belief that most banking groups will have to undergo some kind of reorganisation, irrespective of the camp into which they fall. SPE groups will need to establish holding companies from which loss-absorbing bonds can be issued. In addition, key subsidiaries will need to issue debt to their holding companies that can be written down in times of distress. MPE groups will need to do more to organise themselves into well-defined regional and functional subgroups. In addition common services, such as IT will need to be provided by stand-alone entities that can survive the break-up of an MPE group. Capital requirements for regional subsidiaries forming part of an MPE group may also be higher due to the absence of a parent/holding company that can act as a source of strength through a resolution process.
On the subject to bail-in, creditors of SPE groups will be interested to read Mr Tucker’s comments about how, within the context of a top-down resolution, bonds issued by a holding company will absorb losses before debt issued by an operating subsidiary. In effect, the holding company’s creditors are structurally subordinated to the operating company’s creditors.
Impediments to Resolution
On the subject to impediments to cross-border resolution, Mr Tucker noted that, in order to provide clarity on its previous ‘in principle’ commitment, the Bank of England needs to set down detailed conditions under which it would step aside and allow US authorities to resolve the UK subsidiaries of a US banking group. In turn, other resolution authorities, and particularly the US, need to make the same ‘in principle’ commitment as the Bank of England.
Extension of the Resolution Regime
Finally, on the subject of the resolution agenda, Mr Tucker confirmed that CCPs are the most important example of where resolution regimes need to apply. However, he did not rule out resolution regimes being extended to cover shadow banking, funds and SPVs.