January 07, 2011

The bank crisis and the Basel Committee banking regulations explained to a golfer

Once there was a golf Club with a somewhat narrow golf course and where, even though the members were very careful, sometimes the hooking or slicing of the golf balls into adjacent holes, caused some serious accidents.

The Club’s Board was ordered to find a solution. To that effect the elected members of the Board consulted with some Experts and asked for recommendations. The Experts told the Board “most of the slicing and hooking is the product of bad players and so, if you want to solve this problem, you need to get rid of them”. Knowing this idea would not be received with much enthusiasm, and could in fact pose a direct threat to their reelection as members of the Board, they all decided to immediately delegate the “how” to a Committee of Experts.

The Committee of Experts decided that they needed to appoint some Golf-Player Rating Agencies (GPRAs) to rate the real quality of the players and thereafter created a parallel handicap adjustment requirement that effectively eliminated the bad players… without these even noticing it. According to their ratings, the AAA rated players had their normal handicap increased by 5 strokes, while the players rated B- or worse had their normal handicaps officially reduced by 5 strokes.

It worked! Though, just initially… Since having to play with a very low handicap was pure hell for a bad player, most of the bad players rapidly decided to change clubs and, as a result, the Club gained immense recognition for having the best players and being the safest club in the country… and the Committee of Experts was wildly acclaimed for having true experts. We will never ever have more accidents in our Club… was the Board’s self congratulatory message at the year’s end… four years ago.

But life is life, even among golfers, even in a golf club… and so the membership of the Club started changing. For instance, many great golfing has-beens around the country were attracted by a system that so clearly could help to pro-cyclically prolong their golf-life, just like many never-able-to-be-good players were also attracted by the possibility of joining a club renowned for having exclusively good golf players… and so they all started to read up and converse with the GPRAs about what was necessary in order to be conveniently rated.

There was such an avalanche of enquiries that the GPRAs got confused and overworked and started to make mistakes… to such an extent that the Club rapidly became overcrowded with dubiously rated golf-players. This would, of course, not have meant anything in the old days, but, since everyone had been duly informed that the accidents had been forever eliminated and that therefore there was no need for being careful… the accident rate shot up and rapidly turned, three years ago, into a pandemic disaster that threatens even the survival of the Club… and aggravated by the fact that the beginners and the decent-bad players, those who really are the heart and soul and economical support of a golf club, want nothing to do with a club that has a handicap system that so harshly discriminates against them, and have therefore joined other clubs.

But, golfing friends, the saddest part of this story is that since the logic of “getting rid of bad players and allowing only good players” sounds so very attractive and so very logical, the Board has not even today understood what they did wrong and so they insist on using exactly the same Committee of Experts to come up with better solutions. And the Committee of Experts is currently studying only refinements of their original handicap adjustment requirement formulas because, as “experts”, they cannot under any circumstances acknowledge that they were so fundamentally wrong.

And, unfortunately, the local media is not sufficiently "without fear and without favour" to dare to really fundamentally question the wisdom of the local Club´s Board or of the Committee of Experts.