September 21, 2016

US, when will senators, like Elizabeth Warren, grill bank regulators with the same gusto they grill ban​k​sters?

Sir, I refer to Barney Jopson and Alistair Grays report on how John Stumpf was grilled in the Congress Wells Fargo clear misbehavior “Wells chief savaged in Congress over fake accounts” September 21.

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren told Mr Stumpf: “Your definition of accountable is to push the blame to your low-level employees who don’t have the money for a fancy PR firm to defend themselves. It’s gutless leadership. The only way that Wall Street will change is if executives face jail time when they preside over massive frauds.”

Is senator Warren wrong? Absolutely not, but the grilling, if it does not also include a serious grilling of the bank regulators, is just another pushing all the blame on banks, in order to score cheap populist victories attacking “banksters”.

Here follows just few of the questions the US Senate's Banking Commission should pose regulators.

With your risk weighted capital requirements you allow banks to leverage more their equity, and the support we the society give them, with what is perceived as safe than with what is perceived as risky.

Do you not understand that favoring in this way The Sovereign, The Safe, The Past, The Rich, The Houses and The AAArisktocracy, impedes the fair access to bank credit of We the People, The Risky, The Future, The Poor, The Jobs and The Unrated? Who gave you the right to distort the allocation of bank credit to the real economy this way? Don't you understand with that you have de facto decreed inequality?

In all your regulations where have you defined the purpose of our banks? Does not John A Shedd saying: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for” also apply to banks? Or is it really that you felt you did not need to do that in order to regulate banks?

Finally, for this first round of questions: Where did you get that funny idea behind all this that what is ex ante perceived as risky, is riskier to the banking system than what is perceived as safe, and that is therefore much likely to cause dangerous excessive bank exposures? Have you never heard of Voltaire’s “May God defend me from my friends [AAA rated]: I can defend myself from my enemies [BB- rated]”?

Don’t you see how these regulations helped to cause the crisis? Don’t you see how making it harder than usual for SMEs and entrepreneurs to access bank credit dooms us to stagnation?

By the way, before you go, where do you think we would we be if the credit rating agencies had, so luckily, not fouled up so fast?

@PerKurowski ©