November 14, 2011

Yes, ease the rules on small business loans, by eliminating the regulatory discrimination against these.

Sir, Patrick Jenkins and Brooke Masters on November 12report that Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s executive director of financial stability opines that “regulations that potentially constrain lending to small businesses should be eased [made less capital intensive] when the economy is suffering”. That is a marvelous opening for someone like me who has been for more than a decade clamoring to eliminate the regulatory discrimination against small businesses, though I would of course want that to happen at all times and not only when the economy is suffering. 

Andrew Haldane, with much honesty also says “At present [the risk-weights] are calibrated to the risk of a bank. In future they need to reflect returns to society”. Yes Mr. Haldane that is what they should have done all the time. 

What is really sad though is to read a senior regulatory specialist at a global bank saying “You can’t just change risk weightings at whim because what really matters is that risk is priced correctly”… this specialist, as most other specialists, has still not been able to figure out that you cannot price risk correctly when different risk-weights are imposed on different assets… and that is what have us all now drowning in the ocean of the ex-ante perceived as not at all risky assets.