In the aftermath of the euro-area sovereign debt crisis, several commentators have questioned the favourable treatment of banks’ sovereign exposures allowed by the current prudential rules. In this paper, we assess the overall desirability of reforming these rules. We conclude that the microeconomic and macroeconomic costs of a reform could be sizeable, while the benefits are uncertain. Furthermore, we highlight considerable implementation issues. Specifically, it is widely agreed that credit ratings of sovereigns issued by rating agencies present important drawbacks, but sound alternatives still need to be found. Should a reform be implemented and a measure of sovereign creditworthiness become necessary, we argue that consideration could be given to the use of quantitative indicators of fiscal sustainability, similar to those provided by international bodies such as the IMF or the European Commission.
Giacomo Manzelli is advisor in the Directorate General for Financial Supervision and Regulation in the Bank of Italy. At the Bank, he was previously in charge of supervising banking groups and other financial intermediaries, conducting both off-site analysis and, occasionally, on-site inspections. More recently he has been working in the Regulation and Macroprudential Analysis Directorate, where he analyses the evolution of some of the main risk profiles of the Italian banking system as a whole and evaluates the impact of prudential regulation on the banking sector.
Manzelli holds a BA in political economy from LUISS university of Rome and a MSc in Economics from the University of Warwick (UK). He has published some articles on prudential regulation and its impact on the banking system.