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Riksbank chief calls for new financial framework

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11:15 CET+01:00
Stefan Ingves, the head of the Swedish Riksbank, has called on parliament to look over the existing financial regulatory framework - and do so expediently.

Ingves warned the parliamentary finance committee that Sweden should not rest on its laurels now that the financial markets had stabilized.

"The same action and spirit of cooperation displayed during the financial crisis increases the chances of an improved financial framework to establish a more stable base on which to build the future," Ingves said in a Riksbanken statement.

Ingves repeated that it is now time to leave the record low "crisis" interest rates behind and indicated that the first base rate rises can be expected in the summer or in the beginning of the autumn.

In his speech to the committee, Ingves addressed the problem of the increased risk of continued price inflation in the housing market. Base rate rises are often too blunt an instrument with which to manage the prospect of a house price bubble as they impact the whole economy, he said.

Ingves urged banks to exercise sound judgement when lending money to property buyers and he said that the Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen - FI) is considering new regulations for mortgage lending.

"Without wishing to pre-empt the inquiry, let me just state that as far as we can we should handle the problems before they occur. FI's inquiry would appear to a step in the right direction," he said.

The Riksbank has also appointed its own inquiry into the state of the Swedish housing market.

Ingves continued in his speech to talk about the economic situation in the Baltic states and the impact on major Swedish banks, which have substantial outstanding loans in the troubled region. He concluded that the situation had stabilized somewhat but that the danger had not passed.

"We are expecting credit losses to reach their peak during 2010, but also that Swedish banks will be able to handle the pressure," he said.

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