July 07, 2011

“Unwittingly”… or simply stupidly and irresponsibly?

Sir, Charles Goodhart in “Basel marches down wrong path to tackle systemic risk” July 7, writes “Regulation may unwittingly have actually added to procyclicality and systemic fragility by encouraging similar behavior.” Seriously, where goes the border line between “unwittingly” and either stupidly or irresponsibly?

In January 2003 the Financial Times published a letter I wrote which ended with “Everyone knows that, sooner or later, the ratings issued by the credit agencies are just a new breed of systemic error to be propagated at modern speeds.” And if that was clear to me, an ordinary strategic and financial advisor, that should have been perfectly clear to bank regulators. 

The regulators bet the health of the financial sector on capital requirements for banks based on the credit ratings being right, instead of taking the precautions to safeguard the financial system for when these ratings would, sooner or later, be wrong, and now we are all paying the price of it. 

Sir, if FT’s “Without fear and without favour” motto means anything to you why do you insist on being so lenient with the bank regulators? If it had been many bridges collapsing because of structural design flaws, I am sure you’d gone after the engineers responsible of that. Is it really so that a BP management can be held accountable but a Basel Committee not? It is truly amazing to see basically the same bank regulators keep on regulating with basically the same faulty paradigms... and an FT keeping mum!