October 08, 2015

Scrap credit risk weighted capital requirements for banks and base it on sustainability and job creation instead.

Sir, I refer to David Pitt-Watson’s “‘Fossilist’ finance is proving a hindrance to the ‘clean trillion’” October 8. Again, for the umpteenth time, I make a suggestion that has steadfastly been ignored by FT. I am sorry, to be repetitive, but if that is what it will take, that is what I will be.

Intro: The pillar of current bank regulations is the credit risk weighted capital requirements. More perceived risk more capital and less perceived risk less capital. That so as to serve as an inducement to stay away from what is risky allows banks to earn much higher risk adjusted returns on “safe” assets than on “risky” assets. And that is one utterly purposeless and dangerous piece of regulation.

Purposeless, because of course the perceived credit risk has not one iota to do with if the credit is going to be used for a good societal purpose. There is not one word that defines the purpose of banks in all current regulations.

Dangerous, because it tempts banks to build up excessive exposures, against little capital, precisely with those assets that can cause major bank crises, that what is perceived as safe. What is perceived as “risky” takes care of itself with high risk premiums and low exposures.

And so Sir, it should be clear that current regulations also constitute a major hindrance to the ‘clean trillion’… just like they for instance by impeding the fair access to bank credit of “The Risky”, like SMEs and entrepreneurs also constitute a major hindrance for job creation. 

And so here again is my proposal:

First, scrap those regulations and set the same capital requirement against all assets, so as not to distort the allocation of bank credit. Initially, considering the sorry state of the economy, what is probably required is diminishing the capital requirements for what is risky, to about the level of capital banks already have against all assets.

Then, and only then, and after having clearly explained why, lower slightly the capital requirements against assets that can obtain very good ratings in terms of how they assist sustainability and how they can help create jobs for the next generation. That would allow banks to earn more, on what we all are glad they can earn more.

PS. Since David Watson is an executive fellow of finance a London Business School, I want to inform him that from mid 1979 until mid 1980 I took their Corporate Finance Evening Course.

@PerKurowski ©  J