January 10, 2014

If only an “intellectual vacuum”, but, sadly, it is worse than that Professor Michael Ignatieff.

Sir, Michael Ignatieff writes about “the waning power of ideas” and begs “Free polarized politics from its intellectual vacuum”, January 10. Although, as a self described “radical of the middle”, or “extremist of the center”, I do agree with most of what he writes, I must still confess feeling that the absence of ideas would at least be better that the presence of some really bad ideas.

And a truly bad idea currently present, are the risk-weighted capital requirements for banks, and which allow these to earn much higher risk adjusted returns on equity on exposures deemed as “absolutely safe”, than on exposures deemed as “risky”.

And that makes it of course impossible for banks to allocate credit efficiently to the real economy. And that guarantees that the chances of any major bank crisis, those usually caused by dangerously overpopulating some safe-haven, have been exponentially increased.

Technically the mistake is explained by the fact that regulators estimate the “unexpected losses”, those for which you mainly require banks to hold capital, based on the same perceptions used by the banks to estimate “expected losses”.

And here we have all the free market believers not complaining about that horrible interference with the market that risk-weighting causes … and here we have all progressives not saying a word about the odious discrimination in favor of the AAAristocracy and against the “risky” that risk-weighting causes.

And meanwhile the chances for our youth to find employment in their lifetime are evaporating, thanks to this nonsense of banishing risk-taking from our banks.