Basel III is a set of proposed changes to international capital and liquidity requirements and some other related areas of banking supervision. It is the second major revision to an original set of rules, now known as Basel I, which was promulgated by the Basel Committee in 1988. The committee was established in the mid‐1970’s, after the failure of a small German bank (Herstatt) sent shudders through the global financial system as a result of poor coordination between national regulators. The Basel Committee is composed of banking regulators from a number of industrialized countries, with a core membership concentrated in the traditional banking powers within Europe, plus the US and Japan.
The Basel accords are not formal treaties and the members of the committee do not always fully implement the rules in national law and regulation. One prominent example of this is in the United States. We had not implemented the Basel II revisions for our commercial banks by the time of the financial crisis, which put any such changes on hold. It is not clear whether we would eventually have implemented them, despite having been closely involved in the negotiations that led to that agreement. In truth, few countries choose to implement every detail of the Basel accords and they sometimes find unexpected ways to interpret the aspects they do implement. Despite this, the accords have led to much greater uniformity of capital requirements around the globe than existed prior to Basel I. In fact, the uniformity extends well beyond the countries represented on the Basel Committee, as most nations with significant banking sectors have modeled their capital regulation on the Basel rules.
The Basel Committee is loosely affiliated with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) which is often referred to as the club for the world’s central bankers. The BIS provides certain financial services to central banks and also serves as a