June 10, 2014

Central bankers and bank regulators are, no doubt about it, screwing up our economies.

Sir, I refer to Ralph Atkins and Michael MacKenzie’s first page report “Volatility ‘extinguished’ by moves from central banks” June 10, 2014.

In October 2004, soon ten years ago, as an Executive Director of the World Bank, I delivered a formal statement at the Board of Executives in which I wrote: “Phrases such as ‘absolute risk-free arbitrage income opportunities’ should be banned in our Knowledge Bank. We believe that much of the world’s financial markets are currently being dangerously overstretched through an exaggerated reliance on intrinsically weak financial models that are based on very short series of statistical evidence and very doubtful volatility assumptions.”

Perhaps no one at that time, in an international post as high as mine, warned as clearly as I did about what was happening.

Today, though now only as an insignificant citizen, I must say that the artificially induced low volatility has me even much more worried.

But, on the positive side of only being a citizen, is that you can spell out your opinions with less delicacy… and so let me put it like this:

Between the bank regulators, like the Basel Committee, telling the banks with their capital requirements where they can earn high risk adjusted returns on equity and where not; and as a result central bankers injecting funds which cannot go where they should go, these parties, acting with sublime hubris, believing themselves to be the masters of the universe, are really screwing up our economies.