Representatives of Israeli banks participated in an annual conference held by the International Monetary Fund over the weekend in Tokyo. The three-day conference focused on the global financial system and the banking industry.

“As a backdrop to our discussions is the question of the complex dynamics between stability and growth, which is also present in the Israeli economy,” Bank Hapoalim chairman Yair Saroussi and CEO Zion Keinan were quoted as saying in a press release, without specifying who said what. “Nevertheless, most of the attention is focused on trying to stabilize European economies.”

“Finding balance between stability and growth is the No.1 question on the agendas of leading bankers today,” Saroussi and Keinan said. “The need for stability is clearly the main lesson of the crisis. But stability does not mean refusing to budge. The challenge facing bank managers today, especially in developed countries, is to become a growthinducing factor and then to leverage that growth as a means to fortify the institutions they head.”

Saroussi and Keinan took part in a G-30 seminar at the conference, which was also attended by US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

A central theme of the seminar was the issue of regulation. A policy paper presented to the participants said it was incorrect to “impose uniform operating instructions” on markets with different structural problems, and it is better to let every system attain its own balance.

“The practical conclusion of this,” Saroussi and Keinan said, is “that regulators everywhere need to consider local circumstances and local abilities, as they are expressed in a regulated banking system.”

“Regarding regulation of the banks,” they said, “we identify a trend preferring flexibility in different countries, within the framework of the Basel Committee guidelines, from an understanding that different markets have different needs. It is necessary to differentiate between markets where the government needed to bail out banks and markets, like Israel, where this wasn’t necessary.”

At the conference, Global Finance magazine chose Bank Hapoalim as the best Israeli bank in the developed-markets category.

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