Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

FPC 'must be more independent'

A think-tank says the Financial Policy Committee should act as the Bank of England's early warning alarm

A Bank of England committee must become more independent to ensure it acts as an "early warning alarm" for potential financial problems, a report has recommended.

The Financial Policy Committee (FPC), set up to monitor overall risks in the UK system, is appointed by Chancellor George Osborne.

Think-tank Policy Exchange has called for the majority of the bank's committee's members to be externally appointed and to have a background in financial markets to avoid "group think".

It also recommends the Treasury's representative is removed from the post and that Parliament's Treasury select committee has the power to veto any appointments to ensure the political and procedural independence of the FPC.

The interim FPC held its first meeting in June and the committee will make recommendations to the Treasury on which directive powers it should have early next year.

The paper, Financial Policy, Monetary Policy and Macroprudential Regulation, is also critical of the recently published Vickers report on banking reform.

It dismissed the "one-size-fits-all" capital requirements set out by the Independent Commission on Banking and argues that capital buffers failed to stop the financial crisis, pointing to the 11% held by both Lehmann Brothers and Northern Rock at the point of collapse.

The paper suggests instead that the Bank of England should be able should be able to make judgments based on a firm's balance sheet.

Mark Darrell-Brown, co-author of the report, said: "The Financial Policy Committee should be the Bank of England's early warning alarm, spotting any dangers in the UK's financial system to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis. It should act as a channel of communication between the Bank and the markets, and challenge current conventional wisdom.

"It is therefore absolutely critical that the new macro-prudential regulator avoids 'group think'. That means strengthening the committee's panel of experts to include a majority of external appointments with a strong background in financial markets."

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