October 09, 2014

FT, for the time being, forget the unaccountable bankers… we’ve got a much bigger problem at hands.

Sir I refer to your “Hold Britain’s banks to higher standards: New rules on personal accountability are tough but necessary” October 9.

In it you write: “The regime also brings in a new criminal offence of reckless misconduct that causes a financial institution to fail. This would carry a sentence of seven years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine”,

And then you state: “Those grumbling about perverse regulation should acquire some perspective. Blowing up the nation’s physical infrastructure would carry the severest penalties. Recklessly damaging its financial plumbing can be just as damaging, but has been punishable at most by social opprobrium and a moderation of compensation from previously outlandish highs. No top banker has been punished for the enormous losses that caused the crisis.”

But, as you very well know, I hold bank regulators as the prime responsible for the crisis, having approved incredibly distorting credit-risk weighted capital (equity) requirements which they did not and have yet not been able to understand. And so, if I am right, is not the regulators lack of accountability so much worse? If I am right, and a banker responsible for a failed bank should get seven years... how many years in prison do these failed regulators deserve?

And FT, dare look at it… don’t turn away cowardly. The unrepentant chairman of the Basel Committee when Basel II was approved, is now the General Manager of the International Bank of Settlement; the unrepentant former chairman of the Financial Stability Board, is now the President of the European Central Bank; the current unrepentant chairman of the Financial Stability Board is also Governor of the Bank of England; and the clearly unrepentant current chairman of the Basel Committee is also the Governor of the Swedish Riksbank.

And FT don’t tell me you are unaware that there is a 100 percent correlation between what got banks in trouble and what these regulators allowed the banks to hold against extremely little equity… only because they perceived these assets, ex ante, as “absolutely safe”, and because of their hubris they never doubted their perceptions.

And FT, don’t tell me you are unaware of that secular stagnation, deflation, mediocre economy and all similar creatures, are direct descendants of that silly risk aversion displayed by our unaccountable to anyone failed bank regulators.

So FT, forget the bankers… if only for the time being... we got a much bigger and serious problem at hands.

Do I feel these bank regulators should be jailed? Of course not! I just feel they should go home, in shame, put on their dunce cap, and then beg the forgiveness of all those young who because of them will now become part of a lost generation.

PS. And, by the way, when journalists and columnists of an important paper withhold important arguments only because they do not like the messenger, or the messenger does not stroke their ego sufficiently, does that have no implications when it comes to personal accountability?