January 31, 2014

There will not be any normalization of bank credit in Europe until regulators do a 180 degrees volte-face.

Sir, Sarah Gordon writes that “While the region’s [highly credit rated] groups have gorged on cheap credit, its multitude of smaller companies have had to deal with a scarcity of funding”, “Poor corporate credit is holding back Europe’s recovery”, January 31.

Of course, how could it be otherwise, when regulators, especially in times of scarce bank capital, require banks to hold much more capital when lending to those who are perceived as having higher expected losses than to those who possess a high credit rating.

Gordon mentions that because companies are “now driven by the desire to invest. This will inevitably, result in normalization of credit at some point.” Forget it! There will be no normalization of credit until regulators realize that capital requirements for banks should have very little to do with expected losses, and a lot to do with unexpected losses, and therefore get rid of the current system of risk-weighting.