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Diplomacy in Action

Washington Action Plan


November 15, 2008

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G-20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy
Washington, DC
November 15, 2008

Action Plan to implement principles for reform

This Action Plan sets forth a comprehensive work plan to implement the five agreed principles for reform. Our finance ministers will work to ensure that the taskings set forth in this Action Plan are fully and vigorously implemented. They are responsible for the development and implementation of these recommendations drawing on the ongoing work of relevant bodies, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an expanded Financial Stability Forum (FSF), and standard setting bodies.

Strengthening transparency and accountability

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • The key global accounting standards bodies should work to enhance guidance for valuation of securities, also taking into account the valuation of complex, illiquid products, especially during times of stress.
  • Accounting standard setters should significantly advance their work to address weaknesses in accounting and disclosure standards for off-balance sheet vehicles.
  • Regulators and accounting standard setters should enhance the required disclosure of complex financial instruments by firms to market participants.
  • With a view toward promoting financial stability, the governance of the international accounting standard setting body should be further enhanced, including by undertaking a review of its membership, in particular in order to ensure transparency, accountability, and an appropriate relationship between this independent body and the relevant authorities.
  • Private sector bodies that have already developed best practices for private pools of capital and/or hedge funds should bring forward proposals for a set of unified best practices. Finance Ministers should assess the adequacy of these proposals, drawing upon the analysis of regulators, the expanded FSF, and other relevant bodies.

Medium-term actions

  • The key global accounting standards bodies should work intensively toward the objective of creating a single high-quality global standard.
  • Regulators, supervisors, and accounting standard setters, as appropriate, should work with each other and the private sector on an ongoing basis to ensure consistent application and enforcement of high-quality accounting standards.
  • Financial institutions should provide enhanced risk disclosures in their reporting and disclose all losses on an ongoing basis, consistent with international best practice, as appropriate. Regulators should work to ensure that a financial institution’ financial statements include a complete, accurate, and timely picture of the firm’s activities (including off-balance sheet activities) and are reported on a consistent and regular basis.

Enhancing sound regulation

Regulatory regimes

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • The IMF, expanded FSF, and other regulators and bodies should develop recommendations to mitigate pro-cyclicality, including the review of how valuation and leverage, bank capital, executive compensation, and provisioning practices may exacerbate cyclical trends.

Medium-term actions

  • To the extent countries or regions have not already done so, each country or region pledges to review and report on the structure and principles of its regulatory system to ensure it is compatible with a modern and increasingly globalized financial system. To this end, all G-20 members commit to undertake a Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) report and support the transparent assessments of countries’ national regulatory systems.
  • The appropriate bodies should review the differentiated nature of regulation in the banking, securities, and insurance sectors and provide a report outlining the issue and making recommendations on needed improvements. A review of the scope of financial regulation, with a special emphasis on institutions, instruments, and markets that are currently unregulated, along with ensuring that all systemically-important institutions are appropriately regulated, should also be undertaken.
  • National and regional authorities should review resolution regimes and bankruptcy laws in light of recent experience to ensure that they permit an orderly wind-down of large complex cross-border financial institutions.
  • Definitions of capital should be harmonized in order to achieve consistent measures of capital and capital adequacy.

Prudential Oversight

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • Regulators should take steps to ensure that credit rating agencies meet the highest standards of the international organization of securities regulators and that they avoid conflicts of interest, provide greater disclosure to investors and to issuers, and differentiate ratings for complex products. This will help ensure that credit rating agencies have the right incentives and appropriate oversight to enable them to perform their important role in providing unbiased information and assessments to markets.
  • The international organization of securities regulators should review credit rating agencies’ adoption of the standards and mechanisms for monitoring compliance.
  • Authorities should ensure that financial institutions maintain adequate capital in amounts necessary to sustain confidence. International standard setters should set out strengthened capital requirements for banks’ structured credit and securitization activities.
  • Supervisors and regulators, building on the imminent launch of central counterparty services for credit default swaps (CDS) in some countries, should: speed efforts to reduce the systemic risks of CDS and over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives transactions; insist that market participants support exchange traded or electronic trading platforms for CDS contracts; expand OTC derivatives market transparency; and ensure that the infrastructure for OTC derivatives can support growing volumes.

Medium-term actions

  • Credit Ratings Agencies that provide public ratings should be registered.
  • Supervisors and central banks should develop robust and internationally consistent approaches for liquidity supervision of, and central bank liquidity operations for, cross-border banks.

Risk Management

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • Regulators should develop enhanced guidance to strengthen banks’ risk management practices, in line with international best practices, and should encourage financial firms to re-examine their internal controls and implement strengthened policies for sound risk management.
  • Regulators should develop and implement procedures to ensure that financial firms implement policies to better manage liquidity risk, including by creating strong liquidity cushions.
  • Supervisors should ensure that financial firms develop processes that provide for timely and comprehensive measurement of risk concentrations and large counterparty risk positions across products and geographies.
  • Firms should reassess their risk management models to guard against stress and report to supervisors on their efforts.
  • The Basel Committee should study the need for and help develop firms’ new stress testing models, as appropriate.
  • Financial institutions should have clear internal incentives to promote stability, and action needs to be taken, through voluntary effort or regulatory action, to avoid compensation schemes which reward excessive short-term returns or risk taking.
  • Banks should exercise effective risk management and due diligence over structured products and securitization.

Medium-term actions

  • International standard setting bodies, working with a broad range of economies and other appropriate bodies, should ensure that regulatory policy makers are aware and able to respond rapidly to evolution and innovation in financial markets and products.
  • Authorities should monitor substantial changes in asset prices and their implications for the macroeconomy and the financial system.

Promoting integrity in financial markets

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • Our national and regional authorities should work together to enhance regulatory cooperation between jurisdictions on a regional and international level.
  • National and regional authorities should work to promote information sharing about domestic and cross-border threats to market stability and ensure that national (or regional, where applicable) legal provisions are adequate to address these threats.
  • National and regional authorities should also review business conduct rules to protect markets and investors, especially against market manipulation and fraud and strengthen their cross-border cooperation to protect the international financial system from illicit actors. In case of misconduct, there should be an appropriate sanctions regime.

Medium-term actions

  • National and regional authorities should implement national and international measures that protect the global financial system from uncooperative and non-transparent jurisdictions that pose risks of illicit financial activity.
  • The Financial Action Task Force should continue its important work against money laundering and terrorist financing, and we support the efforts of the World Bank - UN Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.
  • Tax authorities, drawing upon the work of relevant bodies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), should continue efforts to promote tax information exchange. Lack of transparency and a failure to exchange tax information should be vigorously addressed.

Reinforcing international cooperation

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • Supervisors should collaborate to establish supervisory colleges for all major cross-border financial institutions, as part of efforts to strengthen the surveillance of cross-border firms. Major global banks should meet regularly with their supervisory college for comprehensive discussions of the firm’s activities and assessment of the risks it faces.
  • Regulators should take all steps necessary to strengthen cross-border crisis management arrangements, including on cooperation and communication with each other and with appropriate authorities, and develop comprehensive contact lists and conduct simulation exercises, as appropriate.

Medium-term actions

  • Authorities, drawing especially on the work of regulators, should collect information on areas where convergence in regulatory practices such as accounting standards, auditing, and deposit insurance is making progress, is in need of accelerated progress, or where there may be potential for progress.
  • Authorities should ensure that temporary measures to restore stability and confidence have minimal distortions and are unwound in a timely, well-sequenced and coordinated manner.

Reforming international financial institutions

Immediate actions by March 31, 2009

  • The FSF should expand to a broader membership of emerging economies.
  • The IMF, with its focus on surveillance, and the expanded FSF, with its focus on standard setting, should strengthen their collaboration, enhancing efforts to better integrate regulatory and supervisory responses into the macro-prudential policy framework and conduct early warning exercises.
  • The IMF, given its universal membership and core macro-financial expertise, should, in close coordination with the FSF and others, take a leading role in drawing lessons from the current crisis, consistent with its mandate.
  • We should review the adequacy of the resources of the IMF, the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks and stand ready to increase them where necessary. The IFIs should also continue to review and adapt their lending instruments to adequately meet their members’ needs and revise their lending role in the light of the ongoing financial crisis.
  • We should explore ways to restore emerging and developing countries’ access to credit and resume private capital flows which are critical for sustainable growth and development, including ongoing infrastructure investment.
  • In cases where severe market disruptions have limited access to the necessary financing for counter-cyclical fiscal policies, multilateral development banks must ensure arrangements are in place to support, as needed, those countries with a good track record and sound policies.

Medium-term actions

  • We underscored that the Bretton Woods Institutions must be comprehensively reformed so that they can more adequately reflect changing economic weights in the world economy and be more responsive to future challenges. Emerging and developing economies should have greater voice and representation in these institutions.
  • The IMF should conduct vigorous and even-handed surveillance reviews of all countries, as well as giving greater attention to their financial sectors and better integrating the reviews with the joint IMF/World Bank financial sector assessment programs. On this basis, the role of the IMF in providing macro-financial policy advice would be strengthened.
  • Advanced economies, the IMF, and other international organizations should provide capacity-building programs for emerging market economies and developing countries on the formulation and the implementation of new major regulations, consistent with international standards.



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