September 22, 2016

As banks “pressure employees to hawk products”, regulators pressure banks to odiously discriminate against the risky

Sir, John Gapper writes about “the intense pressure Wells Fargo placed on employees to hawk products” “Wells Fargo reaches the end of its journey” September 22.

But, by means of the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, regulators have placed much pressure on banks to lend to what was perceived, decreed or concocted as safe; because that’s were they could leverage the most their equity; because that’s where they could earn the highest expected risk adjusted returns of equity; and so banks end up with excessive exposures to residential home financing, AAA rated securities, loans to sovereigns like Greece and other such fancy safe stuff.

That created also a de facto immoral regulatory discrimination against the access to bank credit of those who ex ante are perceived as “risky”, like SMEs and entrepreneurs. I place quotation marks around risky because in fact, by being perceived as that, they are never as dangerous to the bank system than what is perceived as “safe”.

Incentives are temptations, aren’t they?