Basel I

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DEFINITION of 'Basel I'

A set of international banking regulations put forth by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision, which set out the minimum capital requirements of financial institutions with the goal of minimizing credit risk. Banks that operate internationally are required to maintain a minimum amount (8%) of capital based on a percent of risk-weighted assets.

BREAKING DOWN 'Basel I'

The first accord was the Basel I. It was issued in 1988 and focused mainly on credit risk by creating a bank asset classification system. This classification system grouped a bank's assets into five risk categories:

0% - cash, central bank and government debt and any OECD government debt
0%, 10%, 20% or 50% - public sector debt
20% - development bank debt, OECD bank debt, OECD securities firm debt, non-OECD bank debt (under one year maturity) and non-OECD public sector debt, cash in collection
50% - residential mortgages
100% - private sector debt, non-OECD bank debt (maturity over a year), real estate, plant and equipment, capital instruments issued at other banks

The bank must maintain capital (Tier 1 and Tier 2) equal to at least 8% of its risk-weighted assets. For example, if a bank has risk-weighted assets of $100 million, it is required to maintain capital of at least $8 million.

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