April 26, 2017

Martin Wolf. When the Basel Committee introduced irresponsible financial miss-de-regulation, why did you keep mum?

Sir, Martin Wolf writes of the risks… of “irresponsible financial deregulation... closely linked to the agenda of the Republicans” and argues: “The short-term effects of taking the brakes off an unstable financial system might also be positive. The longer-term ones might include a more devastating crisis even than the one of a decade ago.” “An upswing is not sustained growth” April 26.

Indeed! The short term effects of the Basel Committee favoring what was perceived as safe with much lower capital requirements for banks, had positive short term effects, but also caused the crisis a decade ago, by pushing too much investments in what was AAA rated and lending to sovereigns like Greece.

But I don’t remember reading Mr. Wolf warning about that miss-de-regulation.

The current (republican) proposals we now hear about, like the Financial Choice Act, that suggests a 10% leverage ratio instead of the Basel risk-based capital standards, seems to head in the right direction of eliminating the distortions in the allocation of bank credit to the real economy caused by Basel’s risk weighted capital requirements.

Of course, that is as long as exposures to sovereigns are not calculated differently from other exposures.

As is, lower capital requirements for banks when holding the sovereign’s debts than those of the citizens, de facto implies a belief that government bureaucrats know how to use bank credit better than citizens… and that is of course totally false and absolutely unsustainable.