Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 12:31 UK

Tougher bank regulations planned

Man outside New York Stock Exchange
Banks will have to be clearer about investments under new proposals

New regulations governing high-risk investments by banks have been proposed to try to stop a repeat of the losses seen in the US sub-prime crisis.

Banks would have to set aside more cash to cover risky investments and disclose details of complex trading positions under plans from a leading regulator.

Losses by US and European banks on investments tied to failed US home loans have run into the billions.

This financial damage has led to calls for much stricter oversight of banks.

'Weathering shocks'

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, consisting of central bankers and regulators from Europe, North America and Asia, said new measures were needed to improve banks' risk management procedures and transparency.

It will publish detailed proposals later this year.

These are likely to lead to a sharp rise in the cost to banks of trading complicated financial instruments, such as those which triggered the current credit crunch.

"Supervisors cannot predict the next crisis but they can carry forward the lessons from recent events to promote a more resilient banking system that can weather shocks, whatever the source," said Nout Wellink, the committee's chairman.

The committee, which already dictates the amount of capital that banks must hold in reserve to ensure their financial stability, also wants to develop new sources of liquidity that institutions could draw upon on at short notice.

The IMF has warned that the total cost of the credit crunch could hit $1 trillion.

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