December 10, 2015

When regulators told banks: “Stop chancing on the future and just safeguard the past”, they doomed the middle class

Sir, I refer to Sam Fleming’s and Shawn Donnan’s FT’ Big Read. “America’s Middle-Class Meltdown: Changing fortunes” December 10.

To explain why the middle class and those who aspire to be middle class, those who are doing fine and growing when the economy grows in a balanced way are currently doomed, let me quote two passages from John Kenneth Galbraith’s “Money: Whence it came where it went” 1975.

First: “For the new parts of the country [USA’s West]… there was the right to create banks at will and therewith the notes and deposits that resulted from their loans…[if] the bank failed…someone was left holding the worthless notes… but some borrowers from this bank were now in business...[jobs created]”

Second: “The function of credit in a simple society is, in fact, remarkably egalitarian. It allows the man with energy and no money to participate in the economy more or less on a par with the man who has capital of his own. And the more casual the conditions under which credit is granted and hence the more impecunious those accommodated, the more egalitarian credit is… Bad banks, unlike good, loaned to the poor risk, which is another name for the poor man.”

And so Sir, when bank regulators introduced credit risk weighted capital requirements for banks; which allow banks to leverage more their equity with the net risk adjusted margins provided by those perceived as safe, than with those provided by the “risky”; which allows banks to earn much higher risk adjusted returns on equity when lending to the safe than when lending to the risky; then they effectively instructed banks not to take a chance on the more risky future, but to concentrate on safeguarding the safer past… and that was, and currently is, the beginning of the end of the middle class… and the increase of inequality.

Let us be clear, in the Home of the Brave, the Trojan Horse of the Basel Committee, helped cement a dangerous sissy aversion to credit risks.

​@PerKurowski ©