June 10, 2014

If talking about the decline of morality of bankers, let us not forget that of their regulators... and of journalists.

Sir, John Plender referring to banks and bankers holds that “The crisis shows moral capital is in secular decline” June 10. And I am not going to argue about that, especially when I fully agree with his point of the need for retreating “from the obsession with punishing corporations rather than senior executives.

But when Plender writes about “the absence of an international regulator provided banks for ample opportunity for regulatory arbitrage”; and about how “banks shaped their business to minimise regulatory capital requirements”; and about the role of “lower capital requirements on mortgage backed securities relative to those on conventional mortgages” then he really ticks me off.

Mr. Plender if we are going to talk about morality in banking, those who have most breached it are the bank regulators who, with their capital requirements favored bank lending to “the infallible”, those who already were favored by bankers with higher loans at lower interest rates, and which translated into an outright discriminating against bank lending to “the risky”, those who already were being discriminated against by bankers with higher interest rates and smaller loans. That, in and on itself, was and is a truly immoral (and stupid thing to do)… as immoral it is for journalists and editors that should know better, to keep quiet about that.

Mr. Plender, it was the bank regulators of the Basel Committee, and no one else, who with their Basel II authorized banks to buy securities against only 1.6 percent in capital, if these were AAA to AA rated… and you should know that… or you should not be writing about these issues.