December 24, 2013

There are productive and there are destructive inequalities, and we must know which are which.

Sir I refer to John Gapper’s “In search of balance: Capitalism”, December 24.

I have no problems with most of the “productive” inequalities which result from courageously moving forward – when financing the “risky” future, when increasing the cake. But I do have problems with many of the “destructive” inequalities, which occur when just trampling in the water, when extracting the last ounce of juice from any past risk taking – when refinancing the “safer” past, when only wanting to distribute the cake.

In this respect, when Pope Francis says “I exhort you to a generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach that favors human beings”, I most emphatically have to state that the current capital requirements for banks based on perceived risks, risks already cleared for elsewhere, is definitely not an ethical approach to economic and finance.

And since Gapper makes a reference to Branko Milanovic of the World Bank, the author of “The Haves and the Have-Nots”, I must also comment that it is truly surprising to see how few realize how these regulations, which favor the Haves and discriminate against the Have-Nots, constitute one of the foremost drivers of “destructive” inequalities.

And that the World Bank, the world’s premier development bank, and who should be the first to know that risk-taking is the oxygen of development, keeps quiet on this whole issue, just makes me very sad for the future generations.

FT, please try to reflect on where we in the Western World would have been, had those risk-weighted capital requirements introduced over the last three decades by the Basel Accord, always applied.