January 13, 2015

If I could decide, this is what I would tell ECB to do with all Europe’s banks… I think

Sir, Tom Braithwaite writes: “Banks have been forced to become safer and more boring. By closing down the casino, regulators have reduced the chances of disasters”, “Investors might yet long for the days of Dimon’s swagger” January 13.

How on earth does Braithwaite know that? Why are we to believe that regulators, who allowed banks to leverage over 60 times to 1 on exposures to the AAArisktocracy, or even more to exposures to infallible sovereigns like Greece, know anything about reducing the chances of disasters?

Let me just start by reminding him that when playing roulette if you bet pennies more on a safe colors than on risky numbers… you are guaranteed to lose more, in the long run.

How does Braithwaite know that disaster is not happening at this very moment, because that small business or that entrepreneur who could save the economy of tomorrows Europe, is denied fair access to credit because these banks are given incentives to play it safe, to play on colors and avoid the numbers?

Braithwaite quotes Stefan Ingves the Chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision saying “Leverage is an inherent and essential part of modern banking system” and yet Ingves and his regulatory buddies do not understand that by allowing different leverages for different assets they are de facto imposing capital controls which re-directs the flows of credit to the real economy in many dangerous ways.

Sir, the more I see the urgency of correcting for the regulatory distortion imposed by the Basel Committee, and the risk and difficulties of travelling from here to there in terms of required bank equity, the more I believe we need to:

Impose a 10 percent equity requirement on all assets, and then have the ECB offer to subscribe all equity needed to meet those new requirements. ECB should commit not to use the voting rights of that bank equity and to resell 10 percent of it per year in the market beginning in 3 years.

I have no idea whether that is legally feasible… but if it was my Europe and I could make the decisions, that is what I would probably do… as fast as possible. Any ECB-QEs before correcting what needs to be corrected in Europe’s banks, is just throwing money down the drain.