August 19, 2017

One day, Stanley Fischer, like most current central bankers and regulators, will ask himself, why did I not see that?

Sir, Sam Fleming writes: “Fischer worries about attacks by lawmakers on global regulatory bodies such as the Financial Stability Board, arguing that the rules it proposes are good for the world if everyone adopts them.” “Lunch with the FT Stanley Fischer ‘It’s dangerous and short-sighted’” August 19. Like Gershwin wrote it, “It ain’t necessarily so!”

In November 1999 in an Op-Ed in Venezuela I wrote: “The possible Big Bang that scares me the most, is the one that could happen the day those genius bank regulators in Basel, playing Gods, manage to introduce a systemic error in the financial system, which will cause its collapse”

In April 2003 as an Executive Director of the World Bank I argued that Board that "A mixture of thousand solutions, many of them inadequate, may lead to a flexible world that can bend with the storms. A world obsessed with Best Practices may calcify its structure and break with any small wind."

And in January 2003, FT published a letter in which I stated: “Everyone knows that, sooner or later, the ratings issued by the credit agencies are just a new breed of systemic errors, about to be propagated at modern speeds”

Sir, had regulators not introduced their risk weighted capital requirements for banks, made worse by the importance given to some few human fallible credit rating agencies, the 2007/08 crisis would not have happened; and the economy, net of automation and demographic factors, and considering the outlandish stimuli, would not be as stagnant as it is now.

PS. That Op-Ed I referred to above also included: “I recently heard that SEC was establishing higher capital requirements for stockbroker firms, arguing that “. . . the weak have to merge to remain. We have to get rid of the rotten apples so that we can renew the trust in the system.” As I read it, it establishes a very dangerous relationship between weak and rotten. In fact, the financially weakest stockbroker in the system could be providing the most honest services while the big ones, just because of their size, can also bring down the whole world. It has always surprised me how the financial regulatory authorities, while preaching the value of diversification, act in favor of concentration.”

Let me translate that into the current risk weightings. “It establishes a very dangerous relation between risk and the right to access credit. The “risky”, like SMEs, could be providing the most important additions to the real economy, while sovereigns and AAA rated, just because of their perceived “safety”, could bring the whole world down.”