May 31, 2018

Let’s make sure that environmental, social and governance investing does not just signify ESG profiteering, or access to indulgences for paying worse sins.

Sir, John Authers writes: “On the side of the devil, ESG offers a rebranding for an unpopular industry, an excuse for data providers to crunch a lot of data and then charge for it” “Pressure for ESG presents fund management chiefs with a moral dilemma” May 31.

That is right on the dot. In all these political correct issues, what is by far the most present is the profit motive for those preaching it... morality is much absent

In terms of defending the environment, I would much rather prefer a huge revenue neutral carbon tax, meaning all its revenues paid out in equal shares to all its citizens, than having the climate change fight profiteers gaming the fight and taking their cut. It is sufficiently difficult and expensive as is.

And in terms of “social” it is much better to use all potential profits to help fund a Universal Basic Income than to help fund the social fighters.

But what really upsets me is that good governance is on the list of good socially conscious investments. Much better, much clearer, would be to make sure bad governance is never ever financed.

Let me be absolutely clear. I would much rather prefer a Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein being socially sanctioned, never ever more invited to a party in New York, for helping to finance a human rights violating regime like Venezuela’s Maduro’s, than allowing him to be able to purchase indulgencies to pay for his sins, by (profitably) financing some other “good” guys.


May 30, 2018

“Co-operate more” is often argued by multilateral technocrats only for them to interfere more

Sir, Martin Wolf writes: “Countries that contain substantial populations in relative domestic decline are consumed by the politics of rage. Yet, if progress is to be sustained and the dangers are to be managed, peaceful co-operation is necessary” and he ends with “Am I optimistic that the world will rise to the challenge? The answer is: No”, “The world’s progress brings new challenges” May 30.

I am not optimistic either. In 1998 in an Op-Ed: “History is full of examples of where the State, by meddling to avoid damages, caused infinite larger damages”, and in 1999: what “scares me the most, is [what] could happen the day those genius bank regulators in Basel, playing Gods, manage to introduce a systemic error in the financial system, which will cause its collapse”. 

And with the risk weighted capital requirements that distorts the allocation of bank credit to the real economy, the peacefully cooperating regulators in the Basel Committee realized my worst fears.

And that horrendous mistake, which included assigning risk weights of 0% to sovereigns, like Greece and Italy, and which brought us the 2007/08 crisis, and that is to blame for much of the stagnation in productivity, is not yet even discussed. There’s a total lack of transparency and accountability among those that Yanis Varoufakis rightly holds belong to a network of insiders.

Why? As Varoufakis explains in his “Adults in the room” journalists, I would argue like Martin Wolf, are also “appended, however unconsciously, to a network of insiders… [and] This is how networks of power control the flow of information.”

Wolf also refers to Kishore Mahbubani, the author of “Has the West Lost It?” arguing: “The lesson the west — above all, the US — must learn is… to interfere far less and co-operate far more [with] multilateral rules and agreements. It cannot run the world. It needs to stop its arrogant and usually foolish interventionism.” 

But again: The worst “arrogant and foolish interventionism”, that which really has the West really losing it, as it put banker’s risk aversion on steroids, is what was concocted by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision. And its interference is like a cancer tumor that keeps on growing thousand of pages a year.

A call to “co-operate more” is always justified but, when cooperating, let us not ignore that is precisely what multilateral technocrats often ask for, only in order for them to do more besserwisser interference.

The best multilateral agreement we now could have with respect of our banks, is to set one capital requirement against all assets, a one pager regulation, and then carefully manage the process of getting the banks from here to there, while minimizing the hurting.

PS. The best way to fight pollution, climate change [and inequality], is by means of a carbon tax with all its revenues shared out to citizens. But, since that does not allow for interesting profit opportunities that could be captured, and that could be ruled, the intervention profiteers much prefer the Paris accord on climate change.


May 28, 2018

To integrate migrants in Sweden might have to begin with helping Swedes valuing their heritage (their Swedness) more.

Sir, Richard Milne’s reports Ulf Kristersson (Moderate party) told the Financial Times that integrating the hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Sweden was a “really tricky thing,”“Swedish poll favourite eyes welfare change to integrate migrants” May 28.

Over the weekend I was in Sweden visiting family. There I had a chance to sit down and chat with the priest of the parish where the cemetery in which my parents are buried. After hearing her lamenting, discreetly, I said: Indeed, if you do not teach your children about the historical importance of the Church for Sweden’s development, it is hard to see them take due interest of it. 

Two years ago, the only girl wearing a typical Swedish national dress in the “folkpark” where we danced around the Midsummer pole, was my Canadian granddaughter. It was sad. Of course, to integrate migrants to something not given sufficient importance is a tricky affair. In Sweden, when it comes to swearing, even the “fan” I knew has been pulverized by the “shit”. 

Perhaps Sweden needs to look at itself more in terms of a cultural profitable business franchise, and have its universities analyze how much Swedes and migrants would be losing if Sweden got rid of its originalities and went neutrally global. To start out they could try calculating what its Swedish heritage has meant to bring cohesion and strength to the marketing strategy of an IKEA.

But perhaps that’s not politically correct. I wonder if a university in UK has dared estimating the added value in pounds to Britain, of the recent Meghan and Harry wedding. Surely many billions! Instead you have a Bank of England giving you the cost of Brexit, £900 per family.


May 26, 2018

Current bank regulations express much more than Brexit, a dangerous payday-loan mood.

Sir, Tim Harford refers to “the payday-loan mood it is displaying in its Brexit negotiations. No gain is too small, no price too great, as long as the bill comes later.” “Want to solve a problem? Just wait” May 26.

Current risk weighted capital requirements cause banks to give much more credit to fairly unproductive but “safe” sectors, like housing, and less credit to potentially much more productive but “risky” ends, like loans to entrepreneurs. I would hold that follows a payday loan mood put on steroids… one that in complete violation of that holy intergenerational social contract Edmund Burke spoke about, places a reverse mortgage on our current economy.

Sir, just reflect on that the regulators assigned a 0% risk weight to sovereigns. That can only be justified arguing that the sovereign can only print money to pay back debt expressed in its own currency. Indeed but that spurious argument blithely ignores that printing money to pay back its own debts, is precisely one of the worst misbehaviors of a sovereign, like when Venezuela’ government prints loads of money, among other to serve its own internal debt.

And Harford reminds us: “The world is full of risks. Can anyone guarantee that over the next 300 years both the UK trust fund and country will survive asteroid strikes, thermonuclear war or a deliberately engineered pandemic?”

Indeed, that’s true, but how come then when regulators imposed their risk weighted capital requirements on banks, we decided to naively believe them, instead of asking: Who are you to know what the risks in banking are? And if you do, why are you not then the bankers?


BoE’s FSB' Mark Carney should not be allowed to use Brexit cost estimates to distract us from the distortion of bank credit costs.

Sir, you write: Bank of England’s Mark Carney has come out with a “suggestion that average household incomes are £900 lower than they were expected to be before the Brexit referendum.” “A necessary statement of the obvious from Carney” May 26

But Carney is also chair of the Financial Stability Board, and he therefore belongs to those regulators who do not care one iota about distorting the allocation of bank credit to the real economy, since they are convinced banks will be safer with their risk weightedcapital requirements… all as if the health of the economy is not the most important pillar of a stable bank system.

First try to calculate how much more credit has been given to fairly unproductive but “safe” sectors, like housing, compared to with how much less credit has been given to potentially much more productive but “risky” ends, like loans to entrepreneurs. And then try to come up with a bill for that. Clearly that must have cost and keeps on costing the average household income inBritain, many multiples of £900; and the regulators are not in the least being held accountable for that.

But Sir, since FT has also steadfastly kept silent on the costs of misguided credit allocations, you might also share the same interest in distracting with Brexit 


May 25, 2018

Will the many “General Data Protection Regulation” profiteers help or stand in the way of a better future for our grandchildren?

Sir, Richard Waters writes that “Europe’s new online privacy regime is a gravy train for lawyers and consultants, and it has kept IT departments and compliance officers working late for months [and] it is likely to take an onslaught…from privacy activists” “Brussels forces online reckoning by setting high bar on privacy” May 25.

That raises a question: Will that mean a better future for my grandchildren, or will it just extract value from what has been developed, making what’s to be developed more distant and expensive?

Waters also writes: “One Silicon Valley figure argues: if users were able to capitalise the future value of personal data like this that they will throw off over a lifetime, it would turn out to be one of their most valuable assets”. I have argued a similat the thing with letters sent to FT… but I have also indicated the possibility that all the web and social media added monetary value, could be used to fund a Universal Basic Income, a sort of Human Heritage Dividend.

Personally, scared of some “Big Brother Is Watching You” joint ventures between data gatherers and goverments coming into fruition, I prefer allowing development to run its full course to see where it takes us. 

Sir, I just do not feel sure enough about taking development limiting decisions on behalf of my grandchildren. Do you?

PS. If social media is to be fined, then have all the fines help to fund Universal Basic Income schemes. What we absolutely do not need, is to have social media (ambulance) chasers, redistribution profiteers, like a European Commission, or similar, capturing these.


The regulatory subsidy of house financing has caused much of the financialization of property markets.

Sir, Gillian Tett writes that since some investors are treating housing more like a tradeable asset, chasing yields around the world… [the] housing market is more “financialised”, [and so] a decade of ultra-loose monetary policy in the west has lifted so many geographically dispersed real estate boats” “New York property jitters herald declines elsewhere” May 25.

Since decades regulators allow banks to leverage much more their equity when financing the purchase of a house than for instance financing an entrepreneur. That means that compared to when banks held the same capital against all assets, which it did during most of its history, they now earn higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity when financing the purchase of a house, than for instance financing an entrepreneur.

Anyone who does not think this directly influences house prices should not be writing about finance.

What could the price of houses be in the absence of this regulatory subsidy? It’s hard to say. A static analysis would clearly yield the answer of much lower (30%?), but a dynamical one could perhaps yield higher prices, as a result of so many more affording houses because of more jobs created by entrepreneurs.

How do we get rid of the distortion? The sad fact is that for the redistribution profiteers it is much more interesting to offer affordable houses than to have more people affording their houses, which of course c'est pas la même chose. 

PS. One question I often ask myself is: nowadays when we finance someone’s purchase of a house how much of its price do we need to finance just because of the subsidized financing?

May 23, 2018

Europe has been way to blasé about how the divisive forces of a common Euro within a not fully integrated Europe could gather strength.

Sir, I refer to Martin Wolf’s “Italy’s new rulers could shake the euro” May 23.

On the eve of the Euro, November 1998, in “Burning the Bridges in Europe” I wrote:

“The Euro has one characteristic that differentiates it from the Dollar. This characteristic makes me feel less optimistic as to its chances of success. The Dollar is backed by a solidly unified political entity, i.e. the United States of America. The Euro, on the other hand, seems to be aimed at creating unity and cohesion. It is not the result of these.

The possibility that the European countries will subordinate their political desires to the whims of a common Central Bank that may be theirs but really isn’t, is not a certainty. Exchange rates, while not perfect, are escape valves. By eliminating this valve, European countries must make their economic adjustments in real terms. This makes these adjustments much more explosive.”

One could have expected that the fundamental menace that the Euro poses to the EU should have been in the forefront of everyone’s mind, and that much more would have been done to mitigate the dangers. But that has not really happened as its authorities wasted their time in so many other relative minutiae.

But what I never saw or knew when I wrote that article, as I had really nothing to do with bank regulations, was that bomb that was implanted in the middle of Europe, and in much of the rest of the world, that which required banks to hold more capital when lending to the citizens than when lending to the sovereign. That had to cause that excessive public sector indebtedness, which has now set the Euro problematic on steroids.

Sir, looking at what lays in front, one cannot help to think about the possibility that Brexit ends up being for Britain a very timely blessing in disguise.


May 22, 2018

If Europe’s sovereign debt is to be securitized, who’s going to earn those origination and packaging profits?

Sir, with respect to the European Systemic Risk Board —recommendations of pooling, packaging and tranching sovereign bonds from all members of the single currency into synthetic securities you opine: “Having a safe asset proposal in the mix would make it less risky, for example, to introduce a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism or risk weights for banks’ government bond holdings.” “Eurozone ‘safe asset’ is crucial to banking union” May 22.

Once securities with mortgages to the subprime housing sector in the US got a high rating, that allowed the originators of very long, very high interest and very lousily awarded mortgages, to sell these of at very low discount rates, and thereby generate huge immediate profits for them and the packagers. Did this benefit in any way the subprime sector? No! On the contrary… it got much more mortgages that it could reasonably swallow.

In the same vein, let me ask, how are subprime rated nations like Greece to benefit by having its public debt packaged together with higher rated nations like Germany? If its debt is sold off in riskier tranches, then all remains the same. If its debt remains in the safer tranches is there then not a build up of a new crisis?

Sir, what Europe does not need is to try to hide away in some new securities, the regulators’ fatal use of risk weighted capital requirements for banks, that which favored way too much sovereign indebtedness. 

What Europe, and the western world need the most is to get rid of that regulation in order to allow banks to again become banks that earn their return on equity by giving loans with calculated risk taking, and not by reducing equity.

A Systemic Risk Board that does not understand the systemic risk bad and intrusive regulations pose is a joke of a Board. 


May 21, 2018

There’s never a wrong time to begin correcting bad bank regulations, such as the current ones.

Sir, Rana Foroohar writes: “Financial crises always start the same way” and refers to “Over-confident financiers [and] lax regulators”, “The wrong time to weaken bank reform” May 21.

The 2007/08 crises resulted from overconfident regulators, those who believed so much in the capacity of credit rating agencies that, if private sector assets were rated AAA to AA, banks were allowed to hold these against only 1.6% in capital, meaning they were allowed to leverage a mindboggling 62.5 times. The financiers on their hand, much more than overconfident, were lax and did not have it in them to resist the temptations of such regulatory generosity.

Sir, just think about how much sufferings and how many unrealized dreams could have been avoided had only the following four simple questions been asked of the Basel Committee’s about their risk weighted capital requirements for banks. 

1. What? Do you really know what the real risks for banks are? If you do, why are you not bankers?

2. What? Don’t you see that allowing banks to leverage differently with different assets will lead to a new not-market-set of risk adjusted returns on equity. Are you not at all concerned this could dangerously distort the allocation of credit to the real economy?

3. What? Do you think that what’s perceived risky, that which bankers adjust to by means of lower exposures and higher risk premiums, is more dangerous to the bank system than what they perceive as safe?

4. What? A 0% risk-weight of sovereigns? That could only be explained by their capacity to print currency in order to get out of debt. But is that not also one of their worst possible misbehaviors?

The saddest part though is that 30 years after that faulty regulation was first introduced with the Basel Accord in 1988, these questions are still waiting for an answer.

Sir, there is never the wrong time to start correcting for such bad regulations. You could argue that the introduction of a leverage ratio is doing that. Indeed, but as long as the risk weighted capital requirements remain these will be influencing credit decisions where it most counts, on the margin.

And it is only getting worse. Foroohar writes “larger banks with assets ranging from $250bn to more than $2tn… will now be able to reclassify municipal bonds as “high quality assets”, making it easier for them to game the liquidity coverage ratio.” What does that signify? Those municipalities will get too much credit in too easy terms… just like Greece.


May 19, 2018

If Remainers want Britain back in EU why do they not make the proposals that would make EU more attractive to other Europeans?

Sir, Tim Harford, with respect to the Brexit referendum writes: “It was always clear that asking an absurdly simple question about an absurdly complicated decision was unlikely to work out well.” “Picking a bread-maker is like choosing a Brexit”, May 19

Really? Was the real problem not more that the “experts” expected a simple answer that agreed with their take on an “absurdly complicated decision”? Sort of like what helped Trump to be elected. 

If Britain has problems with getting out of EU, it would seem that many EU nations have even more ingrained problems with staying in EU… having to live under the ever-growing reaches of an evermore distant European Commission.

This week the European Commission tweeted: “Today, municipalities will be able to apply for €15,000 EU financing to install free wireless internet hotspots in their public space. First-come first-served!” Would that not be a perfect opportunity for Remainers to come out in full force with a “See… that is one of the thousand of examples for why so many in Britain went for Brexit”?

With or without Brexit, Europe will remain, and Britain will be a part of it. Britain could be a leading voice proposing the reforms that would allow Britain to reenter EU. And I am sure they would find much sympathy with others equally fed up with having to live under the thumbs of besserwisser technocrats. 

The best of the Winter Olympics 2018 for me was seeing Sofia Goggia singing her Italian national anthem with such an enthusiasm. There was not one bit of Europe present in her voice… and that is an indication Europe is not going in a European direction.

PS. Just in case you are curious, the worst for me at the WO-2018 was to suffer with Egvenia Medvedeva when not winning gold.


May 18, 2018

Bank regulators have clearly violated that holy social intergenerational contract Edmund Burke wrote about.

Sir, Marin Wolf writing that while “UK has messed up policy in five significant respects: growth; ageing; risk-sharing; housing; and redistribution.” argues that the focus on intergenerational equity is not helpful” “The focus on intergenerational inequity is a delusion” May 18.

In that I do not agree.

For the umpteenth time: The risk weighted capital requirements for banks, that which allow banks to leverage more and thereby earn higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity when financing what’s perceives as safe, like the present economy, houses and sovereigns; over what’s perceived as risky, like the riskier future and the entrepreneurs, is a direct violation of that very core of minimum intergenerational equity that should guide our actions.

And not only will our young pay dearly for it. Those young currently living in the basements of their parents houses will one day shout out: “Now its our turn to live upstairs, you move down to the basement!” And way too many of those elder who possess assets, like houses and shares will, when they really need, find it very hard to convert these into the main-street purchase capacity they hoped for.

I pray it will not come to that, but it is useful for everyone to look at Venezuela where their young are now all fleeing to find better opportunities abroad, while most of the elder are stuck in a society that is rotting. And from boom to bust can happen so fast.


The risk weighted capital requirements doomed our banks to impotence, and our economies to obesity.

Sir, I would like to make some of my own observations on two terms of those exposed by Robert Shrimsley in “Menopause, impotence and other useful economic terms” May 18.

Shrimsley writes: “Impotence: An underperforming economy is distressing for all parties. This kind of dysfunction can be either structural or cyclical or psychological”. 

Indeed but it can also be physiological. When the Basel Committee introduced risk weighted capital requirements for banks they impeded banks from feeling any attraction to what’s perceived as risky, like the entrepreneurs. That has our banks only masturbating by lending to what’s “safe”, like houses and sovereigns… and all the Viagra in the world won’t help. Our only salvation lies in a delicate intervention that removes this regulatory object that causes this ED; so that banks can, little by little, throwing out the equity minimizers and reincorporating some savvy loan officers, learn again to perform their societal duties.

Shrimsley writes: “Obesity: This is an economy…which has given up going to the gym and is too heavily dependent on house price inflation and junk commodities like lightly regulated financial products” 

When regulators told banks that if they only stayed away from what is perceived as risky, what bankers don’t like, like risky entrepreneurs and broccoli; and went for what’s safe, what bankers love, like residential mortgages and ice cream, then they would be rewarded with the chocolate cake of higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity…they guaranteed the economy to become obese.


May 17, 2018

Dodd-Frank rollback on mortgages heralds even higher house prices and even less financing of job creation.

Sir, I refer to Barney Jopson’s and Ben McLannahan’s “Dodd-Frank rollback heralds mortgage push” May 17.

Because of the risk weighted capital requirements bank credit is geared to finance what is perceived or decreed as presently safe, like houses and the government, and to stay away from financing the “riskier” future, like entrepreneurs.

Of course I am glad for “a bill aimed at giving small banks relief from post-crisis reforms that had driven them out of parts of the market” so to give these some “more opportunity [to] offer mortgages to folks we know”

I just wish the roll back had meant the risk-weighted capital, so to incentivize small and big banks to give more credit opportunities to entrepreneurs, in order to give “folks we know” more chances of finding the jobs that will help them to service their mortgages and utilities.

PS. One very needed research is on how much of current house prices are the result of regulatory or other subsidies to the financing of mortgages. When now buying a house, how much might we currently have to finance because of the financing of all other purchased houses? 


The not globalized football world, should it not get more out of any Fifa/Uefa deals?

Sir, I refer to Arash Aassoudi’s and Murad Ahmed’s “Fifa’s $25bn shake-up sets up clash with Uefa” May 17.

Out of this $25bn Fifa proposal we read that $2.4bn (4x $600m) will be given “in support to football confederations, national organisations and smaller clubs.” 

That’s less than 10%! In these days in which so much of the richness derived from globalization gets to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, should that support of the excluded not be… at least 51%?


May 13, 2018

Central bankers have surely favored government borrowings… and the costs will be horrendous.

Sir, Desmond King reviews and discusses Paul Tucker’s “Unelected Power”, which asks:“To whom are central bankers responsible? How is oversight of their discretionary authority monitored in a democracy? Can central banks remain legitimate as they choose financial winners and losers?

The starting point for Tucker’s questions seems to be when, in September 2008, “Citizens and bankers sat transfixed as Lehman Brothers collapsed, rattling equity and credit markets”.

Wrong! Not that I had any idea of it back then but the genesis of the problems herein referred to seem to me be in 1988 when bank regulators came up with the incredibly hubristic concept of risk weighted capital requirements for banks, as if anyone could measure ex ante the risks that would explode ex post.

From a cv. on the web I see that Paul Tucker worked in 1987 in “the Banking Supervision Division; as part of the 4 person team negotiating the Basle International Capital Convergence Agreement; and assistant to chair of Basle Supervisors Committee”

So when King writes that “Tucker argues that the “most compelling reason” for [central bank independence] is to “enable governments to save paying an inflation risk premium on their debt”, I must ask: “Really Mr. Tucker, does that require risk weighing the sovereigns with 0% while assigning the citizens 100%?” 

That regulatory subsidy causes, sooner or later, governments to take will be getting up too much debt, that which can only be repaid by the printing machine… meaning inflation… meaning tragedies. 

I have not seen anyone holding Sir Paul Tucker accountable.

PS. I dare Paul Tucker, the current chair of the Systemic Risk Council, to give a coherent explanation for why banks should hold more capital against what’s made innocous by being perceived risky, than against what’s perceived safe and therefore carries more dangerous tail risks? The distortion that produces in the allocation of bank credit constitutes, as I see it, a huge systemic risk.


May 07, 2018

Risk weights of 0% the sovereign and 100% to its source of strength, the citizens, is putting the cart before the horse

Sir, I refer to Professor Lawrence Summers’ “The threat of secular stagnation has not gone away” May 7.

Again, for the umpteenth time: Regulators allow banks to hold less capital against what is perceived safe, like houses and friendly sovereigns, than against what is perceived risky, like entrepreneurs. This allows banks to leverage more with the “safer” present economy than with the “riskier” future. 

And this allows banks to earn higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity when financing the “safer” present economy than when financing the riskier future, something which causes banks to give too much credit to the current economy, without giving sufficient credit to the future productive means that could generate a much needed debt repayment capacity. 

This has to result in the “slow productivity growth [and] unsound lending and asset bubbles with potentially serious implications for medium-term stability” which is of such great concern to Professor Summers. Why is this so hard to understand?

Why can renowned professors with so much voice, not be able to also understand that if you assign a risk weight of 0% to the sovereign, and one of 100% to the citizens, those who signify a sovereign’s prime source of strength, you are putting the cart before the horse? Are they too statist or, behaving like sovereigns with an après nous le déluge, just too indifferent about the future. 


May 05, 2018

What if Artificial Intelligence helps predict decently correct Portfolio Variant Bank Capital Requirements?

Sir, Tim Harford refers to “Prediction Machines by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb [which] argues that we’re starting to enjoy the benefits of a new, low-cost service: predictions. Much of what we call artificial intelligence is best understood as a dirt-cheap prediction. “Cheap innovations often beat magical ones” May 5.

If a credit to a risky borrower is not excessively large, and carries a correct risk premium, it can provide more safety to a bank’s portfolio, than a credit to a borrower perceived as safe.

Unfortunately, and as was stated in “An Explanatory Note on the Basel II IRB (internal ratings-based) Risk Weight Functions”,“Taking into account the actual portfolio composition when determining capital for each loan - as is done in more advanced credit portfolio models - would have been a too complex task for most banks and supervisors alike.”

And so to make up for that difficulty the regulator decided: “In the context of regulatory capital allocation, portfolio invariant allocation schemes are also called ratings-based. This notion stems from the fact that, by portfolio invariance, obligor specific attributes like probability of default, loss given default and exposure at default suffice to determine the capital charges of credit instruments.”

And to justify it they argued that: “essentially only so-called Asymptotic Single Risk Factor (ASRF) models are portfolio invariant (Gordy, 2003).”

But, what if Artificial Intelligence had then allowed bank regulators to make their capital requirements portfolio variant? Many other bad things could of course have happened, but surely AI would have warned against too much exposure being built up with assets perceived (residential mortgages), decreed (sovereigns like Greece) or concocted (AAA rated securities) as safe. And also about too little exposures to what is perceived risky, like loans to entrepreneurs.

The danger is though that since we are clearly not capable to duly question human regulators’ expertize, we could end up questioning even less any Artificial Intelligence’s also quite possible mumbo jumbo. 


May 01, 2018

Sweden got to be an economic powerhouse with its banks financing “risky” entrepreneurs, not by these financing “safer” houses.

Sir, Patrick Jenkins reports: “Nordea has a core equity capital ratio of close to 20 per cent, double that of some European rivals. It can expect lesser capital demands from the ECB” “Nordic noir: the outlook darkens for Sweden’s banks” May 1.

Let us suppose that Nordea has only Basel II’s 35% risk weighted residential mortgages on its books. Then, a 20 percent capital ratio, would translate as having Nordea 7% in equity against all its assets meaning it is leveraged 14.2 times to 1.

So when we then read that in Sweden “house prices have declined 10 per cent since last summer, although in prime Stockholm the slump has been closer to 20 per cent” of course that should be enough to besides giving “Jitters about the sustainability of property prices” causing jitters about its banking sector.

I have a close relation to Sweden in that not only was my mother Swedish but I also spend my most formative years, high school and university there. So it saddens me to see what is happening. Sweden that got to be so strong by its banks financing “risky” entrepreneurs is now getting weaker by its banks mostly financing “safer” assets, like mortgages.

“Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority, late last year, proposed Sweden’s Financial rules [that] would mean those taking out new home loans of more than 4.5 times their salary would have to pay off an extra 1 per cent of their mortgage annually.” Are we to be impressed with that?

Stefan Ingves the Governor of Sveriges Riksbank has since 2011 been the Chairman of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision. Why has he not proposed to stop distorting the banks allocation of credit, by requiring these to hold the same capital when extracting value and placing a reverse mortgage on the “safer” present economy, than when financing the riskier future, that the young Swedes need and deserve is financed?

In Swedish churches there was (is) a psalm (#288) that prays for: “God make us daring”. It would seem Mr Ingves never heard less sang it.