March 25, 2013

If it looks like a distortion, quacks like a distortion, and walks like a distortion then it probably is a distortion.

Sir, Brooke Masters, Tracy Alloway and Shahien Nasiripour report on how banks use “pricey credit default swaps to cut their capital requirements”, “Watchdog to close Basel loophole over use of pricey credit protection” March 25.

And yet these reporters even confronting the willingness of someone to pay “pricey default swaps” cannot seem to understand that must only be because someone has created a distortion, in this particular case that one introduced by Basel regulations which permit banks to hold some assets against less capital than others.

The unhappy Barings’ Bank trader Nick Leeson writes in his memoirs: “And they never dared ask me any basic questions, since they were afraid of looking stupid about not understanding futures and options.”

And how I would like these three reporters to dare ask the regulators for the reason of having capital requirement based on perceived risks which are already cleared for by other means, and, of course, not settling for that fuzzy explanation of “more-risk-more-capital, less-risk-less-capital, does that not sound logical?”

I repeat, our banks are not moved by some invisible hand of the markets, they are moved by the invisible and completely unauthorized and dumb hand of the Basel Committee.

Sir, where have all the daring journalists gone? Worse, where have all the daring editors gone?