While the recent G-20 summit in London provided world financial leaders with the opportunity to begin charting a path of recovery for the ailing global economy, the work to build the markets up and to ensure that a crisis like this never happens again will be left to the world's securities regulators. Regulators around the world, due to their supposed lapse of supervision on the international securities industry, have come under fire for their role in allowing the crisis to occur.
Here in Israel, the country's chief securities watchdog, Prof. Zohar Goshen, chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, has also been a center of attention with the publication of his "Goshen Plan," an ambitious agenda that seeks to restructure the local corporate bonds market by giving institutions a government guarantee covering 75-80 percent of new corporate bonds issued. This means the institutions will bear 20% of any loss, with the government bearing the rest.
According to the plan, criteria will also be established for distinguishing between investments in Israel and investments overseas, in order to use the guarantees to encourage the extension of credit to companies with their core businesses in Israel, and to benefit investment in Israel that will contribute to boosting employment, according to recent reports in the Hebrew press.
Goshen's plan has been embraced by new Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.
In addition to promoting the benefits of his corporate bonds plan, Goshen, along with Ester Levanon and Sol Bronstein from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, is also preparing to host a major securities regulators conference, IOSCO 2009, to be held in Israel at the beginning of June.
IOSCO will build on the success of the G-20 and has announced that it will outline the new role regulators will play in stabilizing the global financial markets, as well as analyze the responsibility that national regulation and deregulation played in the crisis.
The annual IOSCO conference focuses on articulating international standards of conduct, promoting cooperation between securities regulators and facilitating seamless integration between financial markets.The conference will include world economic experts such as SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, S&P President Deven Sharma and UK FSA Chairman Lord Adair Turner, who will focus on the priorities for the reform of global regulation in his keynote address.
The importance of developing a comprehensive new role for regulators was magnified at the G-20 conference at which world leaders said that "major failures in regulation had been the fundamental causes of the current economic crisis."
The G-20 also vowed to impose stronger restraints on hedge funds, credit rating companies and executive pay and moved to establish a new Financial Stability Board that will allow greater means of communication between regulators and the IMF in providing early warnings of potential threats.
"In the wake of the 2008 crisis, regulators will inevitably face a new and vastly expanded mission," said Prof. John Coffee, a professor of law at Columbia University and an IOSCO 2009 panelist. "It will no longer be enough to assure full disclosure and transparency; rather regulators must come to grips with the problem of systemic risk and impose a degree of prudential financial oversight over institutions that are indeed 'too big to fail.'
"If regulators do not learn from the immediate past, they will be destined to repeat it," Coffee said.
The author is Senior Account Executive at Ruder Finn Israel.