Saturday, April 14, 2012

America's Voluntary Standards System--A "Best Practice" Model for Innovation Policy?

America's Voluntary Standards System--A "Best Practice" Model for Innovation Policy? By Dieter Ernst
East-West Center, Apr 2012

For its proponents, America's voluntary standards system is a "best practice" model for innovation policy. Foreign observers however are concerned about possible drawbacks of a standards system that is largely driven by the private sector. There are doubts, especially in Europe and China, whether the American system can balance public and private interests in times of extraordinary national and global challenges to innovation. To assess the merits of these conflicting perceptions, the paper reviews the historical roots of the American voluntary standards system, examines its current defining characteristics, and highlights its strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, a tradition of decentralized local self-government, has given voice to diverse stakeholders in innovation, avoiding the pitfalls of top-down government-centered standards systems. However, a lack of effective coordination of multiple stakeholder strategies tends to constrain effective and open standardization processes, especially in the management of essential patents and in the timely provision of interoperability standards. To correct these drawbacks of the American standards system, the government has an important role to play as an enabler, coordinator, and, if necessary, an enforcer of the rules of the game in order to prevent abuse of market power by companies with large accumulated patent portfolios. The paper documents the ups and downs of the Federal Government’s role in standardization, and examines current efforts to establish robust public-private standards development partnerships, focusing on the Smart Grid Interoperability project coordinated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In short, countries that seek to improve their standards systems should study the strengths and weaknesses of the American system. However, persistent differences in economic institutions, levels of development and growth models are bound to limit convergence to a US-Style market-led voluntary standards system.

BCBS: Implementation of stress testing practices by supervisors

Implementation of stress testing practices by supervisors: Basel Committee publishes peer review
April 13, 2012

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has today published a peer review of the implementation by national supervisory authorities of the Basel Committee's principles for sound stress testing practices and supervision.

Stress testing is an important tool used by banks to identify the potential for unexpected adverse outcomes across a range of risks and scenarios. In 2009, the Committee reviewed the performance of stress testing practices during the financial crisis and published recommendations for banks and supervisors entitled Principles for sound stress testing practices and supervision. The guidance set out a comprehensive set of principles for the sound governance, design and implementation of stress testing programmes at banks, as well as high-level expectations for the role and responsibilities of supervisors.

As part of its mandate to assess the implementation of standards across countries and to foster the promotion of good supervisory practice, the Committee's Standards Implementation Group (SIG) conducted a peer review during 2011 of supervisory authorities' implementation of the principles. The review found that stress testing has become a key component of the supervisory assessment process as well as a tool for contingency planning and communication. Countries are, however, at varying stages of maturity in the implementation of the principles; as a result, more work remains to be done to fully implement the principles in many countries.

Overall, the review found the 2009 stress testing principles to be generally effective. The Committee, however, will continue to monitor implementation of the principles and determine whether, in the future, additional guidance might be necessary.