September 29, 2016
Sir you write: “At present, large banks are allowed to use their own internal models to calculate risk-weighted assets — a crucial measure for determining the amount of capital they are required to hold. Yet over time, banks’ RWA as a proportion of total assets have been drifting down. There is a strong suspicion that this is not just due to making safer loans.” “Europe must address its banks’ enduring malaise” September 30
Of course not! What suspicion? How could regulators, and FT, believe that banks would not try to maximize their risk adjusted returns on equity by minimizing the equity they were required to hold? The big banks, with their own Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious risk models; the smaller banks, by abandoning lending to those with Basel’s standard approach requiring them to hold more capital, like SMEs and entrepreneurs.
There are two ways for a bank to maximize its return on equity. One is minimizing the equity they need to hold, the other is lending or investing in assets deemed risky, at interest rates that are higher than would be normal, to make up for the fact there is more capital involved, but thereby also making the risky riskier. Sir, if you were on a bank Board which one would you prefer?
Sir, the Basel Committee’s, the Financial Stability Board’s and your own naiveté, is just startling.