January 26, 2016

The huge bonuses paid to bankers were enabled by lousy regulators, and were not the result of free market capitalism

Sir, John Plender writes: “Like the robber barons, today’s bonus-hungry bankers have shown once again how capitalists excel at giving capitalism a bad name”, “Capitalists excel at giving themselves a bad name” January 25.

No! Free market capitalism would never ever have enabled the payment of extraordinary high bonuses to bankers… because in free market capitalism banks would have had to hold much more equity than what banks currently hold, and so therefore not only would the risk adjusted returns on equity be lower than what has been seen, but there would also have been less left over for bankers’ bonuses.

With Basel II regulators allowed banks to hold extremely little capital (equity) against assets perceived as safe… for instance only 1.6 percent when lending to the AAArisktocracy. That allowed banks to leverage extraordinarily the explicit and implicit support given by society, for instance by deposit insurance schemes… while having to provide a decent return on very little equity… which left of course a lot of margin to pay the huge bonuses.

The real question is how come these extremely lousy regulators are getting away with what they did and are doing… having even been promoted for it.

@PerKurowski ©