Under Basel 2, international banks were said to be at an advantage: they could lower their capital requirements through the use of advanced models. This, it was feared, would widen the gap between rich country banks and emerging market banks. In my view, Basel 3 holds out the promise that some emerging market banks, including those in India, can turn the tables on their rich country counterparts.
Basel 3 requires banks to hold more capital. That won't be easy for rich country banks, given that growth prospects are dim in the medium term and markets are under stress. They will do what they are already doing, namely, meet capital norms by shrinking their balance sheets. In contrast, banks in India and some other emerging markets can hope to raise capital on the strength of high loan growth and attractive returns to assets. They should be able to marry higher capital adequacy with growth- and, in the process, narrow the difference in market capitalisation over the next five years or so. Thus, under Basel 3, capital promises to be a source of competitive advantage- for some emerging market banks.
More in my ET column, Indian banks' capital edge.