March 20, 2009

The Turner report is not even close to being a watershed.

Sir I have tried to figure the why of Martin Wolf´s “Why the Turner report is a watershed for finance” March 20, but I can´t. A regulatory watershed implies some fundamental change in the basic paradigms used, and this is definitely not it.

As an example the report holds that “Credit ratings have played a valuable role since (i) good investment practice should seek diversification across a wide spread of investments; and (ii) it is impossible for all but the very largest investing institutions to perform independent analysis of a large number of issuing institutions” which only makes us ask: Have they not seen enough of that what matters is not the diversification within one institution but within the whole system? Have they not seen enough of the how expensive the too-big-to-fail are so as to insist in giving the larger institutions special rights?

But perhaps Martin Wolf illustrates best the shortcomings of the report when he writes “if everybody believes in the same (faulty) risk models, the system will become far more dangerous than any individual player appreciates”. Did you notice that “(faulty)”? Well that means that Martin Wolf, like the report, still believes that the risk models can be right and that if we all follow them we will find financial Nirvana.

Wolf also stands firm and refuses to understand that a credit rating is simply the result of a model that analyzes one type of risk, and that these simple one dimensional published result created more havoc than all the other sophisticated financial models put together and that without the AAAs would have remained stacked away as unsellable nerdy creations.

Long live the diversifications of views that can only be present in a free market!... though that does not mean of course that we not do have to get rid of the regulatory naiveté that actually reigns and that allows a bank to leverage itself 62.5 to 1 times, as long as it lends to corporations rated AAA or AA- by some very few eyes.