2017 Year in Review - International Financial Regulation

By Eric Olson

Picture: Globe License: Public Domain

Last year, global financial markets awaited new international regulatory measures, grappled with new market entrants, and responded to significant legal changes in a number of municipalities. The below events review 2017’s most significant developments for the international finance world.

Basel III – Once set to be fully implemented in 2018, the Third Basel Accord devised a regulatory framework aimed at fostering market stability. Although final implementation was delayed, internationally-active banks subject to Basel III’s minimum capital, leverage ratio, and liquidity requirements should continue to prepare for the full implementation in 2019.

Basel IV – In December 2017, the Basel Committee approved a new set of financial regulation rules, dubbed ‘Basel IV,’ which address deficiencies in banks’ internal models for risk-weighted assets by permitting banks to only take a maximum 27.5% cut through internal models, thereby increasing capital requirements. By implementing a floor for risk-weighted assets, the Basel Committee hopes to create uniformity despite variances among banks’ internal models.

Brexit – The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union continues to impact the financial world, with market observers unsure if foreign bank branches operating in Great Britain will be permitted to continue interacting with clients in the European Union.

Cryptocurrencies – Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum greatly increased in popularity and value over the last year, before leveling off towards the end of 2017. Proponents claim that the non-governmentally regulated currency will lead to much positive social and financial change, while skeptics remain critical of claimed benefits and increasing environmental costs. U.S. and European government bodies have indicated they will increase regulation of cryptocurrencies, and market investors should monitor progressing regulatory developments.

MiFID II – The European Union’s new investment services regulations, MiFID II, took effect in early 2018. The newly-effective measures aim to increase transparency in the European trading market as well as create uniform market structures.

New Fed Chair – In November 2017, U.S. President Trump forewent nominating incumbent Fed Chair Janet Yellen for a second term, instead successfully nominating former investment banker Jerome Powell to the position.

United States Tax Reform – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the 2017 U.S. tax reform bill, significantly affected the American private equity industry. The new carried-interest rules, limits on loss deductions, and ceiling on interest deductions alter tax incentives for private equity. In light of these changes, a number of private equity firms have indicated interest in changing corporate form to a corporation for more beneficial tax treatment.

Looking ahead, international finance market participants should continue to monitor the impacts of new regulations and market players - legal advisors must ensure their clients comply with the newly-effective and soon-to-be implemented regulations.