August 07, 2016

If only regulators had had one of those “what-to-do” algorithms Tim Harford mentions before regulating banks.

Sir, Tim Harford refers to Brian Christian’s and Tom Griffiths’ “Algorithms to Live By” in order to ask: “Can computer scientists –– help us to solve human problems such as having too many things to do, and not enough time in which to do them? He concludes “It’s an appealing idea to any economist”, among others because “Computers practise ‘interrupt coalescing’, or lumping little tasks together. A shopping list helps to prevent unnecessary return trips to the shop.” “An algorithm for getting through your to-do list” August 6.

How I wish the bank regulators had had access to such algorithms and to the lumping together of all their, not that small, but huge necessary tasks.

If so, they would have been remembered to define the purpose of the banks, among which is the need to allocate credit efficiently to the real economy stands out, and so they would have stayed away from their distortive risk weighted capital requirements.

If so, they would have remembered to read some books on past crises, or looked into some empirical data, and thereby have understood that bank crises are never ever caused by excessive exposures to something perceived as risky, but always from excessive exposures to something perceived as very safe when put on the balance sheet, and so they would have know their risk-weighted capital requirements were 180 degrees off target.

@PerKurowski ©