June 16, 2010

Yes, we should all have a say in how banks are reformed

John Kay is absolutely right in that “We should all have a say in how banks are reformed” June 16.

Human and economic development includes an incredible number of different risks of different nature and most perhaps not even known to us, just look at BP. Therefore I have for more than a decade protested those regulators who decided to impose capital requirements by discriminating with their arbitrary risk weights based exclusively on the risk of default, a risk that could only be of such a concern to extremely wimpy regulators.

Indeed, that a creditor defaults is about the most natural thing in the world, and the only way it becomes worrisome is if there is a systemic and massive number of defaults; and which is precisely what the regulators finally caused when with their capital requirement they started a mad chase in search of triple-A ratings, and the market found some Potemkin ones.

Also the sole fact that it can go through a regulators head to discriminate in such a way as to assigning zero capital requirements when a bank lends to a AAA rated sovereign but require 8 percent when it lends to its most natural clients namely the small businesses and entrepreneurs, is maddening. If asked I would even prefer it to be exactly the other way round, though I would happily settle for no discrimination at all, as that is what the least confuses the markets.