January 01, 2017

The Basel Committee’s risk weighted capital requirements for banks, put the 2007/2008 “Minsky Moment” on steroids.

Sir, John Authers writes: “The greatest dangers to us are not from things we perceive to be high-risk, because we generally treat them carefully. Trouble arises from that which we perceive to be low-risk.”, “Unnatural calm sparks visions of a ‘Minsky Moment’” December 31.

Sir, you know I have written more than a thousand letters to FT over the last decade pointing out exactly that. For instance in July 2012 Martin Wolf wrote: “Per Kurowski, a former executive director of the World Bank, reminds me regularly, crises occur when what was thought to be low risk turns out to be very high risk."

Unfortunately FT has refused to accept the complete implications of this truth.

Authers, as if it suffices as an explanation now writes: “The crisis that came to a head in 2008 revolved around securities that the rating agencies had given the maximum rating of triple A — it would not have happened if they had been considered speculative”.

No! The full truth is that not only did markets and bankers consider and acted as if those AAA rated securities were safe. Regulators did too. With Basel II of 2004 they assigned what was AAA to AA rated, a risk weight of only 20 percent. Thereby they allowed banks to leverage 62.5 times to 1 their equity with these securities. Had banks been allowed to only leverage 12.5 times to 1, as they were limited to with loans to “risky” SMEs and entrepreneurs, that crisis might not even have been identified as a “Minsky Moment”.

Sir below is a link to the full explanation to what really happened with the AAA rated securities backed with mortgages to the USA subprime sector. Do you have it in you to share it with your readers?