Macroprudential and Microprudential Policies: Towards Cohabitation. By Jacek Osinski, Katharine Seal, and Lex Hoogduin
IMF Staff Discussion Note SDN13/05
June 21, 2013
Summary: Effective arrangements for micro and macroprudential policies to further overall financial stability are strongly desirable for all countries, emerging or advanced. Both policies complement each other, but there can also be potential areas of overlap and conflict, which can complicate this cooperation. Organizing their very close interactions can help contain these potential tensions. This note clarifies the essential features of macroprudential and microprudential policies and their interactions, and delineates their borderline. It proposes mechanisms for aligning both policies in the pursuit of financial stability by identifying those elements that are desirable for effective cooperation between them. The note provides general guidance. Actual arrangements will need take into account country-specific circumstances, reflecting the fact that that there is no “one size fits all.”
How can policymakers promote effective cooperation between two closely related financial sector policies? This Staff Discussion Note identifies complementarities and potential conflicts between microprudential policy, which focuses on the health of individual financial institutions, and macroprudential policy, which addresses risks to the financial system as a whole.
These policies usually complement and reinforce each other in pursuit of their respective goals. For example, the health of individual institutions is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for system-wide stability, while a stable system contributes to the health of individual institutions. In certain situations, however, conflicts may occur because of overlapping policy mandates and the way in which policies are applied.
This paper shows that the clarification of respective mandates, functions, and toolkits can help maximize synergies and limit the potentially negative consequences of policy interaction. Specifically, it is helpful to set primary and secondary policy objectives to clarify the respective responsibilities. It is also important to establish separate, but complementary, policy functions. These include supervision and enforcement (microprudential authority) as well as the identification of systemic risks and the vetting of financial regulations from a systemic risk perspective (macroprudential authority). The potential for tensions between the two policies can be further reduced by clearly assigning powers.
Tensions are more likely to occur at certain stages of the credit cycle, notably during the downturn phase and at crucial turning points. Information sharing, joint analysis of risks, and general dialogue between the microprudential and macroprudential authorities can reduce the likelihood of differences of opinion between the two. Tensions during the downturn are also less likely to occur if policymakers encourage the buildup of shock-absorbing buffers in good times, and if effective resolution mechanisms are in place that allow unviable institutions to die safely. Finally, in order to minimize the risk of misperceptions among market participants, microprudential and macroprudential authorities should establish a credible joint communication strategy that can bolster investor confidence during turbulent periods.
Certain institutional mechanisms can enhance policy cooperation and coordination. The specific features of these mechanisms often reflect country-specific circumstances. For example, if the two policy mandates are held by different entities, it will be important to establish a coordination committee. Other jurisdictions may want to award both policy mandates to a single authority. And in those cases where conflicts between the two policy objectives remain, mechanisms need to be in place to decide which policy should prevail.
This paper provides general and preliminary guidance on measures and arrangements to promote effective cooperation between both policies in their joint pursuit of financial stability. Solutions will be shaped, to a large extent, by country-specific circumstances. Moreover, some flexibility in policy design and arrangements is needed because of the stillconsiderable uncertainty about the impact of these policies and our evolving understanding of systemic risk.