February 11, 2012

Greece’s infantilization is nothing when compared to that of our banks.

Sir, you write that the eurozone’s approach to help Greece has been to infantilize it, “Let Greece stand on its own feet”, February 11. This is absolutely correct and very worrisome but, why do you in FT insist on ignoring the much more tragic and serious infantilization of our whole banking system? 

In essence by means of the interest rate and the size of the exposure, grown up bankers should be able to act on what they perceive as the risk of default of borrowers without any interference. But, the regulators, in a sublime nanny-like effort to keep the banks out of trouble, imposed capital requirements which allow the banks to hold much less capital when the perceived risk are low than when these are high. 

As a direct result, we now have our banks drowning in dangerous excessive exposures to what was perceived as not-risky, like triple-A rated securities and infallible sovereigns (like Greece); and maintaining equally dangerous underexposure to what is perceived as risky, like in lending to small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

A Western world which has prospered because of its willingness to take risks is now shivering in fright and huddling taking refuge in whatever safe-ports are left… and these safe-ports are of course becoming more and more dangerously overcrowded.

FT wake up!