December 29, 2009

Do not help the regulators to get off the hook.

I have always thought that bank regulations should primarily focus on stimulating the banks to take the kind of risks that are more useful to society, and so that, when something goes wrong, as it will do sooner or later, that it has all at least been worthwhile.

Instead the Basel Committee focused on trying to exorcize risk-taking from the banks so as to guarantee bank stability, something that per se does not serve society much; by allowing for some minuscule capital requirements for banks as long as they lent to or invested in operations that the credit rating agencies perceived as risk free… in other words:

Sheer lunacy! There is nothing to be obtained by giving those already blessed with being perceived as having low risks the additional advantage of generating low capital requirements for banks.

Sheer lunacy! Since capital by nature is already too coward, assigning special preferences to the “safe-havens” guaranteed these were to become overcrowded and create a new set of risks.

Sheer lunacy! Only some extremely gullible and naïve regulators would be unable to see that beside the fact that the credit rating agencies, composed by humans trying to measure hard to define risks were bound to go wrong, sooner or later, that with these regulations they were being set up for capture by many interested parties.

And this is why though I absolutely agree with much of Martin Dickson’s “The bankers who wouldn’t say sorry: a cautionary tale”, December 29, I completely disagree with it as a whole, since by pointing excessively at the bankers it might help the regulators to get off the hook.