The US pushback against ‘Basel Endgame’

March 21, 2024 | by


The US pushback against ‘Basel Endgame’ is a significant development in the global financial landscape. Basel Endgame refers to the proposed rules by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to tighten banking regulations, particularly regarding capital requirements for banks. The US has been vocal in its opposition to these rules, arguing that they could harm the American banking sector and undermine the country’s regulatory framework. As the debate intensifies, it remains to be seen how other countries will respond to the US pushback and whether a compromise can be reached.


The Basel Endgame is a proposal that has caused significant controversy and debate within the banking industry. It involves potential changes to the Basel accords, which are international regulations that govern the capital requirements and risk management practices of banks. These changes have prompted concerns from the United States, particularly regarding their potential impact on US banks and the country’s competitiveness. This article will provide an overview of the Basel Endgame proposal, examine the US concerns, discuss the proposed changes by the US, analyze the political and regulatory challenges, assess the impact on global financial stability, evaluate arguments for and against the Basel Endgame, and explore possible compromises and solutions.

What is the Basel Endgame?

Explanation of the Basel accords

The Basel accords, also known as Basel Framework, are international regulations developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to enhance the stability and resilience of the global banking system. The accords provide guidelines for the calculation of risk-weighted assets, capital adequacy ratios, and leverage ratios. They aim to ensure that banks hold sufficient capital to absorb losses and maintain their solvency in times of financial stress. The accords consist of the Basel I, Basel II, and Basel III frameworks, with Basel III being the latest and most comprehensive set of regulations.


Overview of the Basel Endgame proposal

The Basel Endgame proposal is a potential update to the Basel accords that aims to further strengthen the international banking system. It seeks to address perceived weaknesses in the current regulations and reduce the likelihood of future financial crises. The proposal includes changes to capital requirements, risk-weighted assets, and leverage ratios, among other aspects. However, the proposal has faced resistance from various stakeholders, including the United States.

US Concerns

Impact on US banks

One of the primary concerns raised by the United States regarding the Basel Endgame proposal is its potential impact on US banks. The fear is that the proposed changes could result in higher capital requirements for US banks, which may restrict their ability to lend and invest, thus negatively impacting their profitability. US banks argue that they are already subject to robust regulatory oversight and that additional capital requirements could be burdensome and limit their ability to compete globally.


Loss of competitiveness

Linked to the impact on US banks is the concern about the potential loss of competitiveness. US banks argue that if they are required to hold more capital than their international counterparts, it could put them at a competitive disadvantage. They believe that this could create an unlevel playing field and potentially lead to a shift in global financial activities away from the US.

Disagreements with European regulators

Another area of concern for the United States is the disagreements with European regulators regarding the Basel Endgame proposal. The US and European regulators have divergent views on various aspects of the proposal, including the appropriate level of capital requirements and the definition of risk-weighted assets. These disagreements have led to a lack of consensus among regulators, which further complicates the implementation of any changes to the Basel accords.


Proposed Changes by the US

Easing capital requirements

As a response to the concerns raised by US banks, the US has proposed easing capital requirements under the Basel Endgame proposal. The argument is that US banks are already subject to stringent regulations and that a more flexible approach to capital requirements could help mitigate the potential negative impact on their profitability. The US believes that this would allow banks to continue lending and investing while maintaining their stability and resilience.

Redefining risk-weighted assets

Another proposed change by the US is the redefinition of risk-weighted assets. Risk-weighted assets are used to calculate the capital adequacy ratios of banks, with riskier assets assigned higher weights. The US argues that the current methodology for calculating risk-weighted assets may not accurately reflect the actual risk inherent in certain assets, thereby potentially resulting in higher capital requirements. The US proposes revisiting the methodology to ensure a more accurate assessment of risk.


Adjusting leverage ratios

Leverage ratios measure the proportion of a bank’s capital to its total exposure, providing an additional measure of a bank’s risk. The US proposes adjusting leverage ratios to address concerns about their impact on the competitiveness of US banks. The argument is that a more lenient leverage ratio requirement would allow US banks to better compete with their international counterparts while still maintaining an appropriate level of capital adequacy.

Political and Regulatory Challenges

Resistance from other countries

The US faces resistance from other countries regarding its proposed changes to the Basel Endgame. Many countries have expressed concerns about potential risks to global financial stability and the possibility of regulatory arbitrage, where banks exploit differences in regulatory requirements across jurisdictions. Achieving consensus among various national regulators is challenging, as each country has its own interests and priorities.

Negotiations with international regulators

Negotiating with international regulators is another significant political and regulatory challenge for the US. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision consists of representatives from over 30 countries, each with their own viewpoints and priorities. Reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties is difficult, and it requires extensive negotiations and compromises.

Political opposition in the US

Apart from external challenges, the US also faces political opposition internally. Different stakeholders within the US, including politicians, consumer advocates, and industry groups, have varying opinions on the Basel Endgame proposal. Some argue for stricter regulations to protect against future financial crises, while others advocate for a more relaxed approach to support economic growth. These conflicting viewpoints create further challenges for the US in formulating a unified stance.

Impact on Global Financial Stability

Potential risks to the banking system

One of the key considerations in the Basel Endgame proposal is its impact on global financial stability. Critics argue that the proposed changes could weaken the banking system by reducing capital requirements and potentially increasing the risk of bank failures. They assert that stricter capital requirements are necessary to ensure the resilience of banks and prevent another systemic financial crisis.

Concerns about regulatory arbitrage

Regulatory arbitrage is a significant concern in the context of the Basel Endgame proposal. If different jurisdictions implement varying regulatory standards, there is a risk that banks will move their activities to jurisdictions with more lenient regulations to benefit from lower capital requirements. This could create an uneven playing field and undermine the effectiveness of the international banking regulations.

Effects on systemic risk

Systemic risk refers to the risk of a widespread financial crisis caused by the interconnectedness and vulnerabilities of the financial system. Critics of the Basel Endgame proposal argue that relaxing capital requirements could increase systemic risk, as banks may not be adequately prepared to absorb losses during times of financial stress. Strengthening the banking system through stricter regulations is seen as crucial to reduce systemic risk and protect against future crises.

Arguments for the Basel Endgame

Strengthening the international banking system

Proponents of the Basel Endgame argue that the proposed changes will strengthen the international banking system. They believe that the Basel accords, while effective, can be further improved to enhance the resilience of banks and prevent future financial crises. The proposed adjustments to capital requirements, risk-weighted assets, and leverage ratios are seen as necessary to provide a more robust framework for banks to operate within.

Reducing the likelihood of future financial crises

Another argument in favor of the Basel Endgame is its potential to reduce the likelihood of future financial crises. Proponents believe that stricter regulations, including higher capital requirements and more accurate assessments of risk, will mitigate the risk of bank failures and contagion. They argue that the lessons learned from past crises should be incorporated into the regulatory framework to ensure a more stable and secure banking sector.

Addressing weaknesses in current regulations

Advocates for the Basel Endgame contend that the proposal addresses weaknesses in the current regulations. They argue that the financial landscape has evolved since the implementation of Basel III, and adjustments are necessary to reflect these changes. The proposed changes aim to align the regulations with the evolving nature of risks and banking activities, ensuring that banks are adequately capitalized and managed in a rapidly changing global environment.

Arguments against the Basel Endgame

Potential negative consequences for US banks

Critics of the Basel Endgame proposal highlight the potential negative consequences for US banks. They argue that easing capital requirements and adjusting risk-weighted assets and leverage ratios could compromise the stability and competitiveness of US banks. The fear is that weaker regulations would be detrimental to the US banking sector and could expose it to higher risks, reducing its ability to weather financial downturns effectively.

Unintended consequences for global financial stability

Detractors of the Basel Endgame express concerns about unintended consequences for global financial stability. They argue that relaxing regulations may lead to increased systemic risk and create vulnerabilities within the financial system. Critics assert that a more lenient regulatory environment could encourage excessive risk-taking and potentially replicate the conditions that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

Lack of consensus among regulators

Another argument against the Basel Endgame is the lack of consensus among regulators. The diverse range of perspectives and interests of national regulators makes it challenging to reach a unified agreement on the proposed changes. Critics argue that without a broad consensus, any changes to the Basel accords could be ineffective or create further fragmentation in the global regulatory landscape.

Possible Compromises and Solutions

Bilateral agreements between the US and other countries

One possible compromise to address the concerns raised by the United States is the establishment of bilateral agreements between the US and other countries. These agreements could allow for tailored regulatory frameworks that accommodate the specific needs and priorities of each jurisdiction while still maintaining a level of international coordination. Bilateral agreements could facilitate greater flexibility and cooperation between regulators, potentially easing the challenges associated with achieving consensus on a global scale.

Phased implementation of the Basel Endgame

To mitigate the potential disruptions and uncertainties associated with implementing the Basel Endgame proposal, a phased approach could be considered. This would involve gradual and carefully planned implementation of the proposed changes, allowing banks and regulators time to adapt and ensure a smooth transition. Phasing in the changes would help mitigate the potential adverse effects on US banks and global financial stability.

Creation of a regulatory framework that addresses US concerns

Another possible solution is the creation of a regulatory framework that directly addresses the concerns raised by the United States. This would involve a collaborative effort between US regulators and international counterparts to develop regulations that strike a balance between stability and competitiveness. Such a framework would acknowledge the unique characteristics of the US banking system while maintaining alignment with global standards.


The Basel Endgame proposal has sparked intense debate and scrutiny within the banking industry and regulatory community. While the proposal aims to strengthen the international banking system and reduce the risk of future financial crises, there are significant concerns and challenges to overcome. The United States, in particular, has raised concerns about the impact on its banks and competitiveness. The proposed changes by the US seek to address these concerns but face resistance from other countries and a lack of consensus among regulators. Finding compromises and solutions that balance the needs of different stakeholders while ensuring global financial stability will be essential to the successful implementation of any changes to the Basel accords.



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