November 11, 2009

To get the real jobs you have to also be willing to take on the real risks on main-street.

Sir Jeffrey Sachs in “Obama has lost his ways on jobs” November 11, makes very clear and relevant observations, from a central-planners point of view. That said there are many other difficulties on main-street, and these should not be forgotten. Our real job creating machines, the small businesses and entrepreneurs, are being crowded out from access to bank credits, while the banks are rebuilding their capitals, and the financial regulators, even while they were so recently cheated, insist on their love affair with what they think are “low-risk clients”.

When banks lend to a triple AAA rated corporation they are required to hold 1.6 percent capital but, when they lend to a BB+ or lower rated risk or an unrated entrepreneur, the banks are required to hold 8 percent, in other words 400 percent more capital.

The difference of 6.4 percent in bank equity, if the cost of bank equity is 15 percent represents about a one percent regulatory tax on perceived risk, and which has to be added on to whatever interest rate spreads the market already charges for perceived risks. This, unlawful, discrimination against risk, is something that Jeffrey Sachs would do well to add on his list.