Basel II, also called The New Accord (correct full name is the International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards - A Revised Framework) is the second Basel Accord and represents recommendations by bank supervisors and central bankers from the 13 countries making up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to revise the international standards for measuring the adequacy of a bank's capital. It was created to promote greater consistency in the way banks and banking regulators approach risk management across national borders. The Bank for International Settlements (often confused with the BCBS) supplies the secretariat for the BCBS and is not itself the BCBS.

An earlier accord, Basel I, adopted in 1988, is now widely viewed as outmoded as it is risk insensitive and can easily be circumvented by regulatory arbitrage.

The Basel II deliberations began in January 2001, driven largely by concern about the arbitrage issues that develop when regulatory capital requirements diverge from accurate economic capital calculations.

With the first draft (called Consultative Paper 1) published in June 1999, further consultative papers followed together with a large quantity of other releases, Quantitative Impact Studies Nos. 2, 3 and 4, and papers, a final version was issued in June 2004, with a minor revision released in November 2005. In June 2006 a Comprehensive version was published including all Basel regulations up to this date. Implementation of the Accord is expected by 2008 in many of the over 100 countries currently using the Basel I accord.

The final version aims at:

• Ensuring that capital allocation is more risk sensitive;
• Separating operational risk from credit risk, and quantifying both;
• Attempting to align economic and regulatory capital more closely to reduce the scope for regulatory arbitrage.
While the final accord has largely addressed the regulatory arbitrage issue, there are still areas where regulatory capital requirements will diverge from the economic.

Basel II has largely left unchanged the question of how to actually define bank capital, which diverges from accounting equity in important respects. The Basel I definition, as modified up to the present, remains in place

The Accord In Operation
Basel II uses a "three pillars" concept - (1) minimum capital requirements; (2) supervisory review; and (3) market discipline - to promote greater stability in the financial system.

The Basel I accord only dealt with parts of each of these pillars. For example: of the key pillar one risk, credit risk, was dealt with in a simple manner and market risk was an afterthought. Operational risk was not dealt with at all.

The First Pillar
The first pillar provides improved risk sensitivity in the way that capital requirements are calculated for three major components of risk that a bank faces: credit risk, operational risk and market risk. In turn, each of these components can be calculated in two or three ways of varying sophistication. Other risks are not considered fully quantifiable at this stage.

Technical terms in the more sophisticated measures of market risk include VaR (Value at Risk), EL (Loss function) whose components are PD (Probability of Default), LGD (Loss Given Default), and EAD (Exposure At Default). Calculation of these components requires advanced data collection and sophisticated risk management techniques.

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