April 03, 2013

There might be many reasons for wanting to feminize banks but, if it is to reduce risk-taking, then down we go!

Sir I refer to Ralph Atkins “If banks really want to be safe they should hire historians”, April 3.

Absolutely! Those historians would be able to inform you that historically the real dangers for banks have always lurked among what is perceived by the bankers to be absolutely safe, and never ever among what they perceive as risky.

Those historians might also add that one of the most important components for the nations and for their economies to develop, and move forward, is the willingness and the capacity of taking smart risks, which is the reason of course why in some churches we can hear psalms praying “God make us daring!”

Those historians might also add that there is no better way of keeping banks safe, than a sturdy and growing economy.

There might be many reasons why you would like to feminize your banks, like some of those referred to by Susan Menke in “The feminization of banking, why we need a kinder gentle banking” July 2011.

But if you want to do it in order to reduce risk-taking like the research of the Bundesbank that Atkins refers to, then you just have just had it from the very start.

In fact, even though perceived risks of bank assets are already cleared for by means of interest rate, amount of exposure and other contractual terms, bank regulators, primarily with Basel II, and following it up with Basel III, decided that those same perceptions of risk should also be reflected in the capital requirements of banks… more-risk-more-capital less-risk-less-capital.

And with that they allowed the banks to earn much higher risk adjusted expected returns on their equity on exposures to “The Infallible” than on exposures to “The Risky”.

And that, which completely ignores that smart daring risk-taking is the oxygen of any growing and sturdy economy, effectively castrated the banks and made them sing in falsetto… and down we go!