October 13, 2017

It is the lower capital requirements when lending to AAArisktocracy that stops banks from lending to “The Risky”.

Sir, Gillian Tett writes about the growing sector of private funds that, instead of banks, are now lending to the “riskier”, like SMEs and entrepreneurs. “Ham-fisted rules spark the creativity of lenders” October 13.

That is explained with: “these funds only exist because there is a tangible need: mid-market companies need cash, and banks are reluctant to provide this because the regulations introduced after the 2008 global financial crisis make it too costly for them to lend to risky, small clients.”

No! Before risk-weighted capital requirements were introduced, all cost and risk adjusted interest rates were treated equally whether these we offered by sovereigns, AAA rated, mortgages, small and medium unrated businesses or anyone else. Not now, and especially not since Basel II of 2004.

Now banks can leverage those offers more when lending to “The Safe”, so they earn higher risk adjusted returns on equity when lending to The Risky, so they lost all interest in lending to The Risky.

In this respect the de facto cost of trying to make banks safer has therefore been reducing the opportunities to bank credit of those perceived as riskier, which of course increases inequalities.

Sir, please try to find any bank crisis that resulted from excessive exposures to The Risky. These always resulted from excessive exposures to what was ex ante perceived as belonging to The Safe.