September 09, 2016
Sir, John Kay writes: “It is not because interest rates are too high that eurozone consumption is sluggish but rather because expectations are so low. Fiscal austerity and the aftermath of the global crisis have dimmed the employment prospects of a generation of young Europeans. Low interest rates have as intended pushed up the prices of long-dated bonds and houses” “The twisted logic of paying for the privilege of lending”, September 10.
Frankly, how can expectations not be low, when we have regulators that order banks to hold more capital against what’s perceived as risky, the future, a job to be created; than against what is perceived as safe, the past, a house that has already been built?
And Kay writes: “There are obvious requirements for investment in the eurozone — to provide power through cleaner energy plants, to improve roads and relieve overcrowding on trains, to build houses, to accommodate tens of thousands of recent refugees and above all to fund the new businesses that will promote innovation on the continent.”
Yes, but, if so, why do we not have capital requirements for banks based on those purposes?
Mr. Kay, I tell you, it is not “dysfunctional capital markets, rather than any excessively high interest rates, that are behind an investment shortfall across Europe”. It is totally dysfunctional bank regulations.
Mr. Kay also reminds us of the “aphorism that people will lend you money so long as you can prove you do not need it”. But Sir, that is what Mark Twain told us long ago: “The banker lend us the umbrella when the sun shines and wants it back when it looks like it could rain”; and which is precisely why the Basel Committees’ risk weighted capital requirements for banks don’t make sense.
Mr. John Kay, wake up!... and you too Sir.