November 19, 2004

Basel is just mutual admiration club of firefighters seeking to avoid crisis

Published in FT November 18, 2004 The link is gone!

Sir, If a citizen from a developed country wishes to obtain finance from his local bank to buy a pricey retirement home in his local overheated market, then Basel poses no problem.

But should he want to buy a much more affordable home in a developing country and have his bank finance him, then Basel slaps such capital reserve requirements on the bank as to make it an impossibly onerous proposition.

This is just one way by which our bank supervisors in Basel are unwittingly controlling the capital flows in the world.

We also wonder in how many Basel propositions it will take before they start realizing the damage they are doing by favoring so much bank lending to the public sector. In some developing countries, access to credit for the private sector is all but gone, and the banks are up to the hilt in public credits.

Please, help us get some diversity of thinking to Basel urgently; at the moment it is just a mutual admiration club of firefighters trying to avoid bank crisis at any cost - even at the cost of growth.