Is regulatory capital a legitimate, comparable and objective global standard? Evidence from 51 institutions across 17 countries
Van Vuuren, Gary
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Capital as an instrument for financial regulation has come under scrutiny since the financial crisis of 2007 to 2010 highlighted some deficiencies in the ability of capital to absorb unexpected losses and the procyclical nature of capital. This scrutiny arises mainly from the perspective that one of the principal objectives of capital requirements is to promote and contribute to financial stability. However, the literature on the topic is scarce almost to the point of non-existence regarding capital’s validity as tool to level the playing fields between financial institutions. The objective of this article is therefore to investigate financial regulations based on capital requirements from the perspective of its goal of providing equal competitive conditions for financial institutions, the attainment of which is based on the assumption that the cost of capital between institutions (and countries) is the same, which might not necessarily be the case. The cost of capital for 51 financial institutions across 17 countries (three institutions per country) is accordingly calculated in this article using original weighted average cost of capital and capital asset pricing models, as well as modified versions of these to include more country-specific factors. The objective of the article is sought firstly by determining whether the cost of capital is the same among countries and secondly, based on the results, ascertaining whether financial regulations based on capital requirements can therefore realistically achieve this objective of providing equal competitive conditions for financial institutions.