September 03, 2016

A “Council of Historical Advisers” should advice the Council of Economic Advisers, on the origins of bank crises

Sir, Gillian Tett discussing Afghanistan’ Gandamak writes about the importance of knowing where you come from to know where you would want to go. “History lessons would be good for the White House” September 3.

Indeed, and I sure hope the “Council of Historical Advisers” comes to fruition, since the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Basel Committee, sure need some history lessons about the origins of bank crises.

Currently the pillar of bank regulations, is the risk weighted capital requirements for banks; more perceived risk more capital – less risk less capital.

And there is absolutely nothing in history that points to a banking crisis ever having resulted from what was, ex ante, when incorporated in their balance sheets, perceived as risky.

These have only resulted from unexpected events, or from the accumulation of excessive financial exposures to something erroneously perceived as safe. In fact the safer something is perceived, the worse the unexpected consequences that could result. Motorcycles are correctly viewed as much riskier than cars… and therefore much more people die in car accidents than in motorcycle accidents.

To sum it up, the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, dangerously distort the allocation of bank credit to the real economy, for no good reason at all. 

@PerKurowski ©