May 14, 2015

The most incapable and failed risk-manager in history, insists on helping banks to manage their risks.

Sir, Caroline Binham and Lindsay Fortado report that US regulators now include qualitative assessments of banks’ risk-management, “Banks still struggling with finance ethics” May 15.

What a laugh… how sad. If ever there have been incapable and failed risk managers, those are the current bank regulators. Here follows but some illustrations of it.

First, they set the equity requirements for banks based on the perceived risks of bank assets, more-risk-more-equity and less risk less equity, as if that has any real bearing on the risk of a bank. The risk of a bank depends on how banks manage the risk of their assets. And, if push comes to shove, since all major bank crises have been caused by excessive bank exposure to what was ex ante perceived as “safe”, the opposite requirement, less-risk-more-equity, would have been more appropriate.

Then they also entirely ignored the risk that their regulations would distort the allocation of bank credit in to the real economy, in such a way it would weaken it… and that nothing is as dangerous to banks as a weak economy.

Sir, frankly, had there been no regulators or bank regulations how many European banks do you think would have been allowed to leverage 20 to 50 times or more their equity? Does not zero sound like a good guess?

In 1999 in an Op-Ed I wrote: “The possible Big Bang that scares me the most is the one that could happen the day those genius bank regulators in Basel, playing Gods, manage to introduce a systemic error in the financial system, which will cause the collapse of our banks”.

And we still allow these clearly failed bank regulators to play Gods. Well shame on us!