May 27, 2017

Why should technocrats seemingly be exempt from U-turn requirements, even in the face of horrendous mistakes?

Sir, Tim Harford writes: “For many government policies, it’s important to have an emergency stop to prevent bad ideas getting worse”, “In praise of changing one’s mind” May 27.

The worst idea, of the last century at least, has been that of, in order to make the banks safe, one needs to distort the allocation of bank credit by favoring, as if that was needed, banks’ exposures to what is perceived safe over those to what is perceived risky.

That meant that when the ex ante perceptions of risk, of especially large exposures, ex post turned out to be very wrong, that banks would stand there with especially little capital.

That meant that those rightly perceived as risky, like SMEs and entrepreneurs, those so vital for conserving the dynamism of the economy, would find their access to bank credit much harder than usual.

The 2007/08 crisis caused by excessive exposures to what was perceived or decreed as safe, 2007/08, AAA-rated, Greece, and the economies lack of response to outrageous stimulus thereafter clearly evidences the above.

But nevertheless, the concept of risk weighted capital requirements for banks, although somewhat diluted, still survives distorting on the margin as much, and in some cases even more than before.

When one reads Basel II’s risk weight of 20% for what is AAA rated and 150% for what is below BB- rated, the only conclusion one who has walked on Main Street could come to, is that a 180 degree turn into the directions of the risk-weighting would seem to make more sense.

Sir, why is it so easy for journalists to mock changes of minds of public political figures like Trump and May, and not the lack of change of mind of for instance the technocrats of the Basel Committee, the Financial Stability Board, BoE, ECB, IMF, Fed and so on?

Could it be because the latter “experts” tend to find themselves more in the journalists’ networks? Or could it be because of NUIMBY, no U-turn, no changing my mind, never ever in my own back yard. 

Sovereigns were handed a 0% risk weight! Why do we have to keep on reading references to deregulation or light-touch regulations, in the face of one of the heaviest handed statist regulations ever? Could it be because most journalists are also runaway statists at heart?

Why do "daring" journalists not dare to even pose the questions that must be asked?