November 30, 2011

What the IMF should tell the Basel Committee

Sir, Martin Wolf in “What the IMF should tell Europe” November 30, writes “Fiscal indiscipline did not cause this crisis. Financial and broader private sector indiscipline, including by lenders in the core countries, was even more important.” Again, Martin Wolf refuses to acknowledge that most of that “indiscipline” was caused by the incestuous group-think that afflicted bank regulators and made them come up with truly senseless regulations. He should consider that his call for “ruthless truth-telling” applies to him too. 

What I would urge the IMF to use its portent voice for at this moment is to instead of advising Europe advising the Basel Committee, telling it:

"You allowed the banks to lend to ´infallible sovereigns´ and ´super-safe´ triple-A rated privates with little or no capital at all, and, as a result, the monstrous exposures that turned safe-havens into dangerously overcrowded havens were generated... But now is not the moment to make up for all the capital that should have been in place when banks booked their assets, not when the risks were discovered… and so allow all the banks to keep their current exposures backed with whatever bank capital was originally required from them… so to permit that all new bank capital is not to fill holes but can be used to back new operations… but which all have to meet the same basic capital standard no matter what the ex-ante perceived risk is.”