October 15, 2016
Sir, Gilian Tett writes: “when the 2008 financial crisis hit, I decided that the only way for a country to avoid a massive banking crisis was to have regular, small bank failures. Frequent, tiny failures are perhaps the only thing that really stop regulators and bankers from getting too complacent.” “A vision of life through a dirty lens”, October 15.
In 2003, as an ED of the World Bank, in a workshop for regulators I argued:
“There is a thesis that holds that the old agricultural traditions of burning a little each year, thereby getting rid of some of the combustible materials, was much wiser than today’s no burning at all, that only allows for the buildup of more incendiary materials, thereby guaranteeing disaster and scorched earth, when fire finally breaks out, as it does, sooner or later.
Therefore a regulation that regulates less, but is more active and trigger-happy, and treats a bank failure as something normal, as it should be, could be a much more effective regulation. The avoidance of a crisis, by any means, might strangely lead us to the one and only bank, therefore setting us up for the mother of all moral hazards—just to proceed later to the mother of all bank crises.”
It would seem there is some coincidence between what I said then and with what Ms Tett later opines.
Yet, over the last decade, in about a hundred of letters commenting on articles by Ms Tett, I have warned her, and you Sir, about the horrendous distortions that the risk weighted capital requirements for banks produce in the allocation of credit to the real economy; and of that all that distortion fulfilled no stability purpose at all.
But Ms Tett, and you Sir, has steadfastly refused to even acknowledge the problem. Perhaps it is my fault. Perhaps my arguments need to be presented with much more ego stroking than what I thought necessary when communicated with experienced and famous journalists/columnists, or with newspapers, especially one that proclaims “Without fear and without favour”.
So I am curious now to see if Ms Tett’s self declared enlightening experience at some “bars in Hamilton County”, will now allow her to apply what she learnt in the anthropology classes at university, in order to allow her to clean up her glasses on the monstrosities of current bank regulations.