November 29, 2014

Do liberal values include risk-aversion? If so, bye-bye Europe

Sir, Richard Vinen in his “The Pope is wrong – old Europe is a new world” of November 29 extols Europe’s liberal values. And I have a question for him, and for you.

During the last decades regulators have imposed on the European banks credit risk weighted equity requirements. With these they allow banks to earn much higher risk adjusted returns on equity when lending to what is perceived as “absolutely safe” than when lending to what is perceived as “risky”. And so of course return on equity maximizing banks, respond to these incentives and do not lend more to the “risky”, like to small businesses and entrepreneurs. And, given that risk taking is the oxygen of any economy moving forward, Europe is now stalling and falling.

And so my question is: do liberal values include such risk-aversion?

And I ask that because in my opinion little has turned Europe in that old granny Pope Francis refers to, that these risk-adverse regulations.

Risk-taking is for the young, for the optimists, for the believers in a bright future. Risk aversion is for the old, the pessimists, for the ones who do not dare to bet what they have today in order to get a better future.

What a pity Pope Francis did not in his speech to the European Parliament remind Europe of The Parable of the Talents.