April 04, 2011

Where do you get the “more productive” from Mr. Barney Frank?

Sir, Barney Frank in “Greenspan is wrong: we can reform finance” April 4 writes “This combined with the new Basel III capital standards and the ability of regulators to insist on even greater capital, will ensure more prudent and more productive lending”.

One could argue that it might indeed lead to more “prudent” lending, though in this world of Potemkin credit ratings there is of course no guarantee of that. But, what seems a too gigantic intellectual leap is to believe the resulting lending to be more “productive”. There is absolutely not one single word in the whole Basel Committee for Banking Supervision literature that connects the capital standards to the term “productive”, as they are exclusively connected with avoiding defaults. The Basel capital standards are stooped in the banking traditions of providing the umbrella on sunny days and taking it back when it rains.

By the way, it is funny, or sad, to read a US Congressman Barney Frank referring to Basel as a sort of an essential element in bank regulations, and then consider that Basel is not mentioned even once in the over 2000 pages of Dodd-Frank Act.