May 28, 2014

Mme Lagarde, bank regulators also violate basic ethical norms, and prize short term security over long term prudence.

Sir, I suppose you held your “Conference on Inclusive Capitalism” without one word referencing how the risk-weighted capital requirements for banks, in the name of stability, exclude “the risky” from having fair access to bank credit, even though “the risky” have never ever caused a major bank crisis. 

Emily Cadman and Sharlene Goff report that reeling off a list of recent scandals including money and the manipulation of Libor, Ms Lagarde said: “some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms”. And Mme Lagarde also stated “The [financial] industry still prizes short-term profit over long term prudence” “IMF’s Lagarde attacks financial sector for blocking reforms”, May 27.

Mme Lagarde is absolutely right, but, as I see it, the truth is also that on both counts, bank regulators are even guiltier, as a result of imposing risk-weighted capital requirements on the banks. That risk weighting allow banks to earn much higher risk-adjusted returns on equity when lending to “the infallible”, than when lending to “the risky”. 

And that causes of course a highly unethical discrimination against “the risky” and, since it distorts the allocation of credit in the real economy, it also evidences that regulators prizes much more short term security than long term prudence.

And in fastFT we also read that Mark Carney the governor of the Bank of England stated “there is growing evidence that relative equality is good for growth. At a minimum, few would disagree that a society that provides opportunity to all of its citizens is more likely to thrive than one which favours an elite, however defined” 

Absolutely, but frankly, who is Mark Carney to talk about this? As a chairman of the Financial Stability Board, he has for many years approved these risk-weighted capital requirements for banks, which so favours the access to bank credit of the “infallible sovereign” and the AAAristocracy elite.

And Mark Carney also stood there straight faced and said “Banking is fundamentally about intermediation – connecting borrowers and savers in the real economy” Have these regulators who so distort the intermediation no shame?

Sir, as a former Executive Director of the World Bank, now Civil Society, whatever that means, I have formally directed question related to these capital requirements, twice to Mme Lagarde and once to her predecessor Strauss-Kahn … and both responded as if they sort of understood what I was talking about.

And to that add, at least, 50 events at the World Bank at the IMF and others like this during which I have questioned these capital requirements… and of course on IMF's blog... but clearly to no avail.

And so in this respect may I argue that IMF’s silence on the risks of risk-weighting, is blocking as much or even more than the financial sector, the so much needed reforms.