January 12, 2017

Regulators should not focus on those risks (weather prognosis) bankers already consider, but on the uncertainties

Sir, several prominent names write: “Last week Andy Haldane… admitted that economists had failed to predict the financial crisis, and compared the situation with that of ill-informed weather forecasting in 1987 — the “Michael Fish moment”. And the experts argue: “At the heart of the crisis would appear to sit faulty accounts and unreliable audits” and as a consequence they request more reliable accounting rules. “Clearer picture of banks’ capital is required to help avert crises” January 12.

Sir, no can argue against better accounting rules, but please, that is not what created the financial crisis.

In terms of weather forecasting what happened (and what is still happening) was that not only did the banks follow the credit forecasts to set their exposures and interest rates, but so did the regulators, when they set their risk weighted capital requirements. That meant that “weather forecasts” got to be excessively considered. The regulators role on the contrary was and is, not the management of perceived risks, but to consider the uncertainties, like weather prognosis being utterly wrong.

PS. De facto, absurdly, it meant regulators believed bankers were going to go out, especially, when the weatherman was announcing a storm.