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Estonia : the challenge of financial integration (English)

The most important challenge of Estonia's strategy for integrating its financial sector with that of the European Union (EU) is to upgrade its capacity for prudential regulation and supervision enough to gain recognition from its EU counterparts. Doing so is also a crucial complement to Estonia's strategy for strengthening macroeconomic policy and stabilization--especially because, under a currency board, its banks are a central part of the transmission mechanism for capital flows. Under the currency board, banks have been able to arbitrage between domestic and foreign financial markets--increasingly funding themselves from abroad. Such arbitrage has become the key funding source for rapidly expanding credit, contributing to the country's large current account deficit. Estonian authorities are justified in tightening prudential regulation and supervision because of the risks associated with an overheating economy, general market volatility, and the possible deterioration in the quality of credit. Improvements in prudential regulation should be followed by improvements in the country's capacity to supervise banks and an upgrading of the banks' risk management systems, to manage the increasingly complex operations and diverse markets in which they engage. These steps should be a priority. The institutional development of banks and supervision have lagged behind market developments. In improving the regulatory framework for banks, Estonia should avoid establishing incentives for tax arbitrage that lead to the creation of artificial and socially costly financial intermediaries.




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Cavalcanti, Carlos Oks, Daniel

Estonia : the challenge of financial integration (English). Policy, Research working paper ; no. WPS 1946 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.