Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Basel Committee castrated our banks.

One of the most serious threats to development, both in developing and developed countries, is the castration of our banks by the Basel Committee by means of the minimum capital requirements for banks based on assessments of default-risk.

The real stability of a financial system does not depend so much on avoiding the risk of defaults but on making sure that the underlying growth of the economy in which the banks function is healthy and sustainable as a whole. In this respect, imposing “risk-weights”, could quite plausibly elevate the risks of getting the wrong sort of growth in which not only the banks would fail but also the rest of the economy.

The default-risk based capital requirements for banks have effectively imposed a tax on all lending to what is perceived by credit rating agencies as more risky, notwithstanding that these loans could be the most productive for the society; and effectively introduced a subsidy to anything that can dress up as having a low risk, notwithstanding that these loans could be the most unproductive for the society.

The default-risk based capital requirements for banks are effectively increasing the world’s Gini coefficient.

Therefore, if the wimps of the Basel Committee absolutely insist on discriminating between borrowers with their “default-risk weights”, then the society should at least have the right to request the introduction of some “loan-purpose weights” as counterweight to the risk-adverse maniacs.

Over the last years (2004-2007) trillions of dollars of funds, more than the World Bank and the IMF have lent altogether since they were created over sixty ago, were diverted, by the false AAA signs set up by the credit rating agencies, to finance an artificial housing boom. Had it not been for those signs much of those funds could have gone for instance to solve bottleneck problems in the infrastructure in developed and developing countries; to create decent jobs in developed and developing countries alike; or to help fight climate change.

Think of it, don’t you see that if the AAA ratings of the subprime mortgages had been absolutely correct then we could be on our way to something even more disastrous, as the world concentrated more and more all its scarce financial resources in the building and the revaluing of houses in the USA.

Friend, please act now and help us recover our banks.

And also, please stop calling what detonated because of investments in the supposedly safest assets, mortgages and houses, in the supposedly safest country, the USA, and in the supposedly safest instruments, those rated AAA, a financial crisis resulting from excessive risk-taking. It is a financial crisis caused by an excessive and completely misguided risk-aversion.