November 01, 2017

A designated group of Wise People, often self-designated from a mutual admiration club, does not guarantee any wisdom

Sir, Howard Davies the chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, when discussing financial regulations after Brexit writes. “The choice is presented as being between continued market access, as a rule taker from Europe, or taking back control of our own regulation and losing market access. The dilemma is nothing like so stark —EU bank capital regulations derive from the Basel Accords, and the UK remains a full member of the Basel Committee.” "Post-Brexit financial regulation cannot be left to negotiators" November 1

And to Work “out a new arrangement which responds to these realities” he suggests designating a group of Wise People.

Indeed, but Britain, Europe, we all need is bank regulators acting like wise men, and not like self-interested not accountable to anyone bankers.

Let me for the umpteenth time ask some questions.

What creates those excessive exposures that can endanger a bank system?

That which is perceived as very safe, or that which is perceived as very risky?

The regulators obviously believe the second, the very risky, as they in Basel II assigned a risk weight of 20% to what is AAA rated and one of 150% to what is below BB-rated.

What do you think is a more important purpose for our banks?

Lending to sovereigns and the AAA rated those with already ample access to credit, or lending to SMEs and entrepreneurs those that could help the economy to keep moving forward?

The regulators obviously believe the first, as they in Basel II allowed banks to leverage 62.5 times to 1 or more when lending to sovereigns and AAA rated, but only 12.5 times to 1 when lending to the unrated.

But have not Basel III changed it all? No, the risk weighted capital requirements remain in place and, on the margin, are just as distorting as ever.

How has this happened? The regulators acted like bankers and looked at the risks of bank assets, instead of wisely concerning themselves with if bankers perceived or managed the risks correctly.

Any risk, even if perfectly perceived, causes the wrong action if excessively considered.

And so for Britain and for the long-term prospects of the English banks that we have learned to admire, assure yourself of getting rid of all that pernicious Basel influence and so that your bankers can again be savvy loan officers, and not just the small equity minimizers they have so willingly become… in order to maximize their bonuses.