October 31, 2012

If Draghi is the European Central Bank’s sharpest tool I pity Europe

Sir, Ralp Atkins holds that “Draghi’s resolve is European Central Bank’s sharpest tool” October 31. 

To me Mario Draghi is one of those utterly failed regulators who believed for instance that banks should be allowed to leverage their equity 62.5 to 1 when lending to those officially perceived as “The Infallible”, for instance Greece, but kept strictly to 12.5 to 1 leverage when lending The Risky, like European small businesses and entrepreneurs. And so, in this respect, if Draghi is the sharpest tool, I can only pity Europe, that tool can only keep on cutting it into pieces. 

As I have said so many times, if little me had anything to do about helping the eurozone or Europe out (or the US too) , the first thing I would do is to make certain that those most capable of saving the economy had access to bank credit in the best of terms. And that would mean that while bank equity remains so scarce, I would dramatically lower the capital requirements for banks when lending to “The Risky”, and slowly increasing these for all, until that odious and stupid regulatory discrimination in favor of “The Infallible” has been completely eliminated. 

To inject funds in any way shape or form before the distortions on how those funds will flow through the economy has been eliminated, all that is achieved is wasting away extremely scarce fiscal and monetary policy space.

PS. For those who do not know Mario Draghi was since April 2006, until 2011, the Chairman of the Financial Stability Forum, later the Financial Stability Board. And this is something I had to say about the FSF in 2008.