December 02, 2017

To allow banks to regain public trust and better serve the UK economy, begin by explaining how their regulators distorted banking.

Sir, you write about “the highly concentrated nature of the UK system, which is dominated by a handful of large institutions, with balance sheets skewed towards mortgage lending and other forms of consumer finance” and of a popular resentment of banker’s pay, “Corbyn’s calculated ‘threat’ to the banks”, December 2.

Banks’ balance sheets are skewed towards less-capital or very high risk-premiums, like lending to the sovereign, mortgage lending and other forms of consumer finance

Banks’ balance sheets are skewed away from what requires holding more capital and cannot afford to pay too high rates, like SMEs and entrepreneurs.

If you required banks to hold as much capital for all their assets as they must hold when lending to SMEs and entrepreneurs, then the story would be much different.

If you allowed banks to hold slightly less capital against loans to SMEs and entrepreneurs than against all other assets, that would more than compensate for the lack “of community banks or Sparkassen”; and introduce such economic dynamism that it could more than help you to confront any Brexit difficulties.

If banks needed to hold more capital in general, and therefore needed to compensate shareholders more, then there would be less available space for current abnormal banker bonuses. Ask Sergio Ermotti how much he has to thank regulators for his bonuses.

So, how to ensure that the banking sector can regain public trust and better serve the needs of the UK economy? Sir, why not begin by explaining what the bank regulators have done. We can of course not ask the bankers to explain that.

Oops, but that would mean you would have to explain why you have silenced my soon 2.700 letter to you on this, and that could be too embarrassing for one with your motto.

A brief aide memoire