February 21, 2014

In order to rein in inequality, bank regulations must change too.

Sir, I refer to Professor Robert H Wade’s letter “In order to rein in inequality, market need to change”, February 21. Therein Wade writes: “any serious attempt to rein in income and wealth inequality in the US, Britain and elsewhere has to change the institutional structure of markets so that they are less efficient at sluicing pre-tax income up towards the top”.

That is correct but let us not ignore that at the core of that “sluicing”, lies the number one source of damnable inequality politics, namely that which impedes equal opportunities for all. And in this respect, nothing is sluicing cheap and plentiful bank credit away from the “risky” medium and small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups, towards the “infallible sovereign and the AAAristocracy, than the current risk-weighted capital requirements for banks.

And that these capital requirements do by allowing banks to hold much less capital against assets deemed “safe”, than against assets deemed “risky”, which of course means that banks will earn much higher risk-adjusted returns on equity when lending to what is perceived as “safe”, than when lending to what is perceived as “risky”.

And all that odious regulatory discrimination for nothing, since never ever has a crisis of the bank system resulted from excessive exposures to what was ex ante perceived as “risky” these always have resulted from excessive exposures to what ex ante was perceived “absolutely safe” but that, ex post, turned out to be risky.

Sadly though, that regulatory discrimination seems to be of no concern whatsoever for most current “inequality fighters”… (like Professor Joseph Stiglitz)