( FT )- The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday called on the world's top central banks to narrow the differences in the way they provide liquidity to financial markets, saying this would help to combat market strains that were global in nature.
Jamie Caruana , the IMF's head of monetary and capital markets, said there was "enormous" scope for convergence in central bank liquidity operations.
This could include moving towards similar standards for collateral, the type and number of institutions eligible to access funds direct from a central bank and arrangements for providing term loans.
"In a globalised world it makes all the sense to have as similar as possible systems and procedures," Mr Caruana said.
Financial institutions and investors have complained since the outset of the credit crisis that the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England have adopted different and at times contrary approaches to providing market liquidity.
Top officials at these central banks realise the shortcomings of these efforts and say they are already looking at ways to work together more effectively.
"It would be good to have more convergence in the tools," Mr Caruana said. But he said the IMF was calling for "natural convergence" and not full "harmonisation", which he said was impossible given the differences in the structure of the financial systems in different economies.
His comments came as the IMF said the credit crisis was entering a new phase, in which strains in the interbank money market had eased but "credit concerns now extend beyond the subprime sector".
Mr Caruana backed calls for recapitalisation of the bond insurers, saying they were "a very important piece of the systemic risks in the future".
He said that if the bond insurers were downgraded, the knock-on effects on bank balance sheets would be "a small proportion of the write-downs the banks are already facing because of subprime , but...significant enough to take seriously."
He said it could be "cheaper" for banks and other institutions exposed to counterparty risk on the part of the bond insurers to recapitalise them rather than risk a ratings downgrade.
The IMF warned that there was already evidence that strains on the balance sheets of financial institutions and concerns about macroeconomic risk had resulted in "some tightening of lending standards" - in Europe as well as the US.
Mr Caruana said the top priority for markets and policymakers was to "rebuild counterparty confidence and the financial soundness of institutions".
He urged regulators and auditors to insist on prompt disclosure of exposure to subprime and other related securities, including the assumptions on which the exposure was estimated, and to ensure that treatment was "consistent" across institutions.