October 17, 2017

Long term growth, development, in India and elsewhere, requires getting rid of Basel's regulatory risk aversion.

Sir, Eswar Prasad writes: “the real question for policymakers in India is not about how they can boost growth temporarily but how to create the environment to elicit private investment. Without that, durable longterm expansion will remain a mirage”, “Long-term growth in India depends on serious reform” October 17.

It is now ten years since at the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Developing at the United Nations, I presented a document titled: “Are the Basel bank regulations good for development?

Its first paragraph states: “It is very sad when a developed nation decides making risk-adverseness the primary goal of their banking system and places itself voluntarily on a downward slope, since risk taking is an integral part of its economic vitality, but it is a real tragedy when developing countries copycats that and falls into the trap of calling it quits.”

And from what I have seen, in terms of Basel’s banking regulations, India is proceeding as if just as papist as the Pope.

The risk weighted capital requirements; those that dangerously distort the allocation of bank credit in favour of what is perceived decreed or concocted as safe, and against what is perceived as risky, like SMEs and entrepreneurs, are still going strong there.

That is the danger of empowering technocrats that are more interested in showing off to colleagues what’s fashionable in Basel than wearing what they should wear back home.

PS. The document referred to was also reproduced in India, in October 2008, in The Icfai University Journal of Banking Law Vol. VI No.4