March 27, 2014

With respect to increasing bank capital we need banks and regulators to be partners, not enemies.

Sir I refer to Gina Chon and Camilla Hall’s “Fed looks beyond bank’s financial targets” March 27.

As a result of regulators falling for the risk-weights’ trick, banks are now, ate least when compared to pre-Basel Committee history, dramatically undercapitalized. It behooves everyone in the economy to see that capital increased substantially so that bank credit is not unduly blocked.

I have no idea of what the Fed saw in Citibank when performing its stress testing and that caused it to reject its capital plan for dividends and share buybacks, but I do know that if the word “punishment” describes it appropriately, the Fed is on the wrong track.

If the real economy is going to get out of this mess… and it is a mess… the Fed and the banks must be partners in finding lots of new bank capital in a credible way. And bank capital will not be raised sufficiently by mistreating the shareholders of banks… nor by fooling some investors into buying Coco bonds, suspecting the probabilities for these to be converted, are knowingly underrepresented.

In fact the Fed and other regulatory authorities must tread on the issue of Coco bonds with extreme care, less they also be liable for withholding information and misrepresentation. And for this I refer to “Flurry of Coco bonds sends yields tumbling” by Christopher Thompson.

If I buy a Coco today and become converted into a bank shareholder three years from now I guess I cannot complain... but what if that happens three weeks from now?