September 13, 2017

No matter how much influence Warren Buffett might have, his is nothing when compared to bank regulators'

Sir, Robin Harding writes: “Mr Buffett is brilliant at buying into monopoly profits, but he does not start companies or gamble on new ideas. America is full of entrepreneurs who do. Celebrate that kind of business. It is the kind America needs”, “How Buffett broke American capitalism” September 13.

And Harding also argues “however much you admire Buffett, his influence has a dark side because the beating heart of Buffettism, is to avoid competition and minimise capital investment in the real economy”

But what do bank regulators do? They tell banks that if they lend to or invest in what is perceived as safe, they need little capital, Basel II even allowed banks to leverage 62.5 times with what corporate asset carried an AAA rating.

And they tell banks that if they lend to or invest in what is perceived as risky, like to “risky” entrepreneurs who “start companies or gamble on new ideas” then they need more capital which means lesser possibilities of high risk adjusted returns on equity, which means banks will not lend to these.

If that is not “minimizing capital investment in the real economy”, what is?

Frankly when compared to the destructive influence current bank regulators have on the real economy, whatever bad influence Warren Buffett might have is inconsequential.

And at least Warren Buffett makes profits, while current bank regulators just make everything worse. That since they completely ignore those ex ante perceived safe pose much more ex post dangers to banks than those perceived risky.