December 23, 2015

Was the US Office of Strategic Services’ “The Simple Sabotage Field Manual” used by the Basel Committee?

Sir, John Kay refers to “The Simple Sabotage Field Manual — produced in the second world war by the US Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency — was designed to illustrate how, at little risk to themselves, saboteurs in occupied territories could damage organisations.” “Absurd roots of modern regulatory practice” December 23.

When we see how some few bank regulators, apparently with absolutely no risk for themselves have, by means of credit risk weighted capital requirements, managed to distort the allocation of bank credit to the real economy in most of the world, we could ask whether that field manual fell into the hands of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, and about that committee’s intentions.

And when Kay refers to FM Cornford’s procedural rules as an instrument to silence any objection and to “obscure troublesome considerations… and relieve the mind of all sense of obligation towards society”, then we might understand better the continuous rule expansion in Basel II, Basel III and those Basel’s still to come.

Frankly, nothing has sabotaged more our economies than Basel Accord's Basel I’s risk weights of zero percent for the sovereign, and 100 percent for the private sector. To me that was an act of statist regulatory terrorism. I am sure most members in the Basel Committee did it unwittingly… but, frankly, all of them?

@PerKurowski ©