May 14, 2010

But the regulatory geeks never passed calculus!

Sir Gillian Tett in “Risks posed by get-rich geeks are not just a flash in the pan” May 14 is right on the dot when she writes that “it all seemed so mind-numbingly geeky and dull to ordinary mortals and very few journalists, politicians, or even regulators, had much interest asking the right questions”

In 2003, at the World Bank, in a brief speech I gave to some assembled risk-manager-regulators I told them “…we can already begin to see how Basel II is forcing bank regulators to make a real professional quantum leap. As I see it, you will have a lot of homework in the next years, brushing up on your calculus—almost a career change.”

Clearly they did not pass calculus, but nor should they have had to, because if regulations are not comprehended by the weakest of the team, they are just too complicated. My problem in my relation on the subject of the very subprime financial regulations with the journalists of the Financial Times is exactly that, because very few of them, if anyone, has found the necessary calm and tranquility to sit down and read Basel II, so as to even begin to understand what absurd paradigm the regulatory geeks want us to follow.