June 23, 2014

You in FT have more voice than most professors teaching finance, so who’s really more “responsible for teaching responsibility”?

Sir, I refer to John Authers’ “Who is responsible of teaching responsibility” June 23, FT’s special “Business Education: Financial Training”

There Authers writes “And yet biggest business schools find it hard to prepare their students to joust with regulations. One problem is practical: these days, the top schools are global, but regulation is country specific” Hey where has Auther’s been? Does he not know that on June 26, 2004, 10 years ago, the G10 signed up on Basel II which established that truly nutty concept of risk-weighted capital requirements?

Had these business schools, and FT journalists, been a little more responsible for what they were doing, they would most certainly informed the regulators in their ivory towers, that this was going to distort the allocation of bank credit in the real economy, with tragically consequences.

And Authers also refers to “the pre-crisis power of credit rating agencies. The Basel II bank regulations gave investors a big incentive to buy anything stamped triple A by agencies. That way lay disaster.” Come on Authers. How many borrowers are not any longer contracting credit ratings because of Basel III? And how did Basel III really change something? By banks being forced to take a tougher stance if they believe credit ratings were wrong? Whoa!

And then Authers writes that “ratings were only ever advertised as opinions on publicly available information”. Where does he get that from? The truth is that credit rating agencies quite often have access to much more information the public and bankers have.

And if we are to talk about ethics, let us be clear that it is highly unethical of regulators to discriminate against “the risky”, those already discriminated against precisely because they are perceived as risky, as unethical it is for financial journalists to shut up about that discrimination… and so John Authers and colleagues might be more in need of courses in ethics than students in business schools… though that admittedly leaves us with the problem of finding out who are going to teach you those ethics. Me?