May 08, 2009

What a stress!

Sir now 19 large bank holdings companies (BHCs) have been told what to should do in order to hang around and so they should at least be a little bit less stressed... but what should we do with these stress-test results?

First it hard for us to interpret the results of the stress test because they all refer to risk-weighted assets” and this we know that no matter its pompous name this does not mean anything absolute. Not only are the weights completely arbitrary, like for instance 20% for triple-A rated assets, but also those weighing, the credit rating agencies, have clearly shown themselves not to be the most very trustworthy risk surveyors. It also makes any comparisons between BHCs impossible since the differences between the risk-weighted assets could be larger than between apples and oranges.

But second and most importantly the stress test does not include any type of recommendation. Do we want to strengthen the weaker BHCs so that these survive or are we looking to show who are weak so that we can strengthen the stronger to make sure that some of the BHC survive? Why do we not put all our money in the group outside the BHCs? What a stress!