January 12, 2015

Europe, get rid of risk-weights, impose a 10% leverage ratio, and have ECB's helicopter drop equity on your banks

Sir, Wolfgang Münchau, as a tool to avert deflation in Europe, mentions the possibilities of a sizable QE helicopter drop in Europe, like €10.000 per citizen; and, sort of shamelessly using the tragic recent Paris as an excuse, argues for more fiscal stimulus, “Eurozone needs to act before deflation takes hold” January 12.

And I have to wonder, again, what goes on in his and other columnist minds, when they make suggestions like these, while at the same time they do not seem bothered by that Europe’s banks are ordered not to lend to those perceived as risky, like to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Because that is what de facto happens when regulators allow banks to hold less equity against exposures perceived as safe than against exposures perceived as risky.

What would I do? Perhaps order a 10 percent not risk weighted leverage ratio imposed on all European banks to substitute for all credit risk discriminating equity requirements; and then have the ECB to subscribe and pay in what new bank equity might be needed on a case by case basis, all with a firm-commitment to resell those shares to the market within a given period.

That would not only help to fight deflation, but, much more importantly, it would allow those tough risk-taking agents that the economy needs in order to grow when the going gets tough, to get going again.