May 18, 2018

The risk weighted capital requirements doomed our banks to impotence, and our economies to obesity.

Sir, I would like to make some of my own observations on two terms of those exposed by Robert Shrimsley in “Menopause, impotence and other useful economic terms” May 18.

Shrimsley writes: “Impotence: An underperforming economy is distressing for all parties. This kind of dysfunction can be either structural or cyclical or psychological”. 

Indeed but it can also be physiological. When the Basel Committee introduced risk weighted capital requirements for banks they impeded banks from feeling any attraction to what’s perceived as risky, like the entrepreneurs. That has our banks only masturbating by lending to what’s “safe”, like houses and sovereigns… and all the Viagra in the world won’t help. Our only salvation lies in a delicate intervention that removes this regulatory object that causes this ED; so that banks can, little by little, throwing out the equity minimizers and reincorporating some savvy loan officers, learn again to perform their societal duties.

Shrimsley writes: “Obesity: This is an economy…which has given up going to the gym and is too heavily dependent on house price inflation and junk commodities like lightly regulated financial products” 

When regulators told banks that if they only stayed away from what is perceived as risky, what bankers don’t like, like risky entrepreneurs and broccoli; and went for what’s safe, what bankers love, like residential mortgages and ice cream, then they would be rewarded with the chocolate cake of higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity…they guaranteed the economy to become obese.