November 02, 2013

Tim Harford, be very careful, regulators might wish to regulate baking more

Sir, Tim Harford ends his splendid “Why can´t banking be made more like baking” November 2, with, “I wonder if even Mr Carney will be able to make the market for pensions work like the market for croissants”.

Harford should be much more careful, because other regulators might be lurking in the shadows with desires to regulate baking. For instance they could come up with a tax on low fiber content in bread, in order to help the British people digest better, which would result in, sooner or later, in the British people only being offered fiber.

I say this because bank regulators, like Lord Turner, and like Mark Carney, the current chairman of the Financial Stability Board, considered that the only socially “useful” activity that a bank could engage in was to make certain it would not default. And, to that effect they concocted capital requirements for banks based on perceived risks.

And that regulation allows banks to earn much much higher risk adjusted returns on equity when lending to “The Infallible”, sovereigns, housing and the AAAristocracy, than when lending to “The Risky”, medium and small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups. And in this case we all see how, instead, all the fiber is being taken out of UK´s real economy.