May 30, 2018

“Co-operate more” is often argued by multilateral technocrats only for them to interfere more

Sir, Martin Wolf writes: “Countries that contain substantial populations in relative domestic decline are consumed by the politics of rage. Yet, if progress is to be sustained and the dangers are to be managed, peaceful co-operation is necessary” and he ends with “Am I optimistic that the world will rise to the challenge? The answer is: No”, “The world’s progress brings new challenges” May 30.

I am not optimistic either. In 1998 in an Op-Ed: “History is full of examples of where the State, by meddling to avoid damages, caused infinite larger damages”, and in 1999: what “scares me the most, is [what] could happen the day those genius bank regulators in Basel, playing Gods, manage to introduce a systemic error in the financial system, which will cause its collapse”. 

And with the risk weighted capital requirements that distorts the allocation of bank credit to the real economy, the peacefully cooperating regulators in the Basel Committee realized my worst fears.

And that horrendous mistake, which included assigning risk weights of 0% to sovereigns, like Greece and Italy, and which brought us the 2007/08 crisis, and that is to blame for much of the stagnation in productivity, is not yet even discussed. There’s a total lack of transparency and accountability among those that Yanis Varoufakis rightly holds belong to a network of insiders.

Why? As Varoufakis explains in his “Adults in the room” journalists, I would argue like Martin Wolf, are also “appended, however unconsciously, to a network of insiders… [and] This is how networks of power control the flow of information.”

Wolf also refers to Kishore Mahbubani, the author of “Has the West Lost It?” arguing: “The lesson the west — above all, the US — must learn is… to interfere far less and co-operate far more [with] multilateral rules and agreements. It cannot run the world. It needs to stop its arrogant and usually foolish interventionism.” 

But again: The worst “arrogant and foolish interventionism”, that which really has the West really losing it, as it put banker’s risk aversion on steroids, is what was concocted by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision. And its interference is like a cancer tumor that keeps on growing thousand of pages a year.

A call to “co-operate more” is always justified but, when cooperating, let us not ignore that is precisely what multilateral technocrats often ask for, only in order for them to do more besserwisser interference.

The best multilateral agreement we now could have with respect of our banks, is to set one capital requirement against all assets, a one pager regulation, and then carefully manage the process of getting the banks from here to there, while minimizing the hurting.

PS. The best way to fight pollution, climate change [and inequality], is by means of a carbon tax with all its revenues shared out to citizens. But, since that does not allow for interesting profit opportunities that could be captured, and that could be ruled, the intervention profiteers much prefer the Paris accord on climate change.