June 20, 2017

So now European small businesses are being exploited like "subprime" buyers of houses were

Sir, Robert Smith writes: “‘It’s not quite 2006, but it does feel a bit like we’ve heard this script before’” “Europe looks to repackage bank debt: Return of securitisation coincides with concerns over slipping standards

He sure has, or should have heard it! That because the incentive structure in the process of securitizations is as bad as they come.

If you take very good credits, let us say A+ rated, and you package it so it comes out an AAA rated security, you might have done a good job but it will not earn you much.

If on the other hand you manage to package a lot of substandard BB- loans into an AAA rated security, then you will make fabulous commissions when selling these into the market.

It was precisely that which originated the AAA rated securities backed with mortgages to the subprime sector in the USA, and which caused the 2007/08 crisis.

The worse and higher paying interest mortgages you cant put into these securities the better for the whole team was the rallying cry. In the end those buying their homes with these mortgages and those investing in these securities, they were all defrauded by a wrong set of incentives. 

So now the small businesses and entrepreneurs in Europe, those who are risk weighted by the regulators at 100%, will be packaged into securities for which “double-A credit ratings were most likely” and thereby seeing their risk weight magically reduced to 20%.

Will this in any way shape or form really benefit European SMEs and entrepreneurs? The answer is if so, certainly very few of them.

What Europe needs is to get rid of the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, those that have so profoundly distorted the allocation of bank credit to the real economy. Then your bankers will be forced to become bankers again; maximizing their returns on equity by normal lending, to all, and not by minimizing their capital requirements.

PS. Here’s some numbers on the prime subprime deal! If you convinced risky and broke Joe to take a $300.000 mortgage at 11 percent for 30 years and then, with more than a little help from the credit rating agencies, you could convince risk-adverse Fred that this mortgage, repackaged in a securitized version, and rated AAA, was so safe that a six percent return was quite adequate, then you could sell Fred the Joe mortgage for $510.000. This would allow you and your partners in the set-up, to pocket a tidy and instantaneous profit of $210.000