January 10, 2013

Forget the bankers’, the regulators’ well that’s real arrogance to write home about.

Sir, “Bankers have become too arrogant and the industry must change”, that is what Andrea Orcel, the chief executive of UBS told the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking, and as reported by Patrick Jenkins and Lina Saigol in“UBS chief calls on arrogant bankers to change”, January 10.

Of course there are arrogant bankers, and I have met quite a few of them in my time, and not only lately. But that said, in terms of arrogance, they all come a long distance second from those who think it naturally for them to be the risk-managers for the whole world.

And I refer of course to the regulators who, by way of the Basel Committee and the Financial Stability Board (ex-Forum), designed capital requirements for banks based on the perceived risks of the different bank assets, and as if that perceived risk had not already been cleared for in terms of interest rates, amounts of exposures and terms.

It was their arrogance, and their self-sufficiency, which caused the current crisis in which banks found themselves saddled with excessive exposures to what was erroneously perceived as absolutely not risky, “The Infallible” and we, the real economy, suffering growing difficulties to satisfy the credit needs of the unrated, or the not- so-good-rated, small and medium business and entrepreneurs, and this only because regulators foolishly believe “The Risky” to be risky for the banks.

And still five years after the 2007-08 crisis that should have opened their eyes, they arrogantly, now with Basel III, trot along the same proven wrong road of Basel II as if nothing happened. That Sir, well that’s some real arrogance to write home about.