July 27, 2017

Current bank regulations also guarantee Canadian covered bonds will have more demand than Italian.

Sir, Thomas Hale while explaining the appetite for Canadian covered bonds quotes Michael Spies, a strategist at Citi with: “I’m buying a collateralised bank bond rated triple A, from a bank which is rated double A, in a country which is rated triple A,” he adds. “Now let’s put this together and compare it to an Italian covered bond.” “Canada’s housing rally owes a debt to Europe” July 12

That is not the whole story. Those Canadian covered bonds can, as a consequence of the risk weighted capital requirements, be held by banks against less capital than those “risky” Italian ones; and so therefore the banks can multiply their equity with more Canadian net risk margins than with Italian; and so banks will earn higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity with the Canadian than with the Italian; and so the Canadian covered bonds, when compared to the Italian, will have more demand than these would have had in the absence of the risk-weighting, and the Italian less.

That the distortion in the allocation of bank credit to the real economy the risk-weighted capital requirements for banks cause is not more discussed, is one of the great mysteries of our times.

PS. I was kindly informed of that "The risk weighting for a highly rated Italian covered bond is actually significantly lower (10%) than for a Canadian covered bond of the same rating (20%). This is because the European legislation (CRR) affords preferential treatment to issuers in the European Economic Area." I did not know that, but it sure makes me question whether Canada is aware of that it is subjected to this kind of European regulatory protectionism.