November 18, 2013

Can we have some more trigger-happy bank regulators please?

Sir, Alex J Pollock, of the American Enterprise Institute, comments on John Kay’s article “The design failures that lead to financial explosions” saying that when Kay holds that “attempt to design a system for zero failure is impractical” that he would suggests it being “a mission impossible”. And as an argument for this, Pollock correctly writes “The greater the belief in their success grows, the higher the probability of their failure becomes.

And I would also have to add that the larger and more dangerous those failures also become.

In 2003 addressing some hundred bank regulators who were learning about what was being planned by some few regulators for Basel II, I said: “A regulation that regulates less, but is more active and trigger-happy, and treats a bank failure as something normal, as it should be, could be a much more effective regulation. The avoidance of a crisis, by any means, might strangely lead us to the one and only bank, therefore setting us up for the mother of all moral hazards—just to proceed later to the mother of all bank crises.”