May 18, 2011

The mother of all boundless optimists must be the bank regulator

Sir, John Plender asks “How long before we confront a new financial crisis? Usually a severe shock to the financial system damps risk appetite for some considerable time”, “There are still too many latent triggers of the next crisis”, May 18.  Plender considers that “boundless optimism, excessive leverage and overpriced assets” already places us in “dangerous territory”.

I agree with the conclusion but not with the analysis.  The current crisis was not caused by risk appetite but by regulatory risk-adverseness that stimulated banks to invest excessively in sovereign and triple-A rated securities, and so, a dampened risk appetite, when layered on top of that kind of regulations, can make it all so much worse, so rapidly.

Sincerely if we are to speak about boundless optimists, then the mother of all of them have to be the bank regulators who still arrogantly believe they can manage the risks, by means of imposing their own risk weights on the market… followed closely by those who believe these regulators capable of solving the problems they themselves created. Without any doubt the regulators remain firmly in place as the greatest source of systemic risk