Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I accuse the bank regulators... they caused the crisis!

If risk models, credit ratings and market intuitions were perfect, then a bank would really not need any capital at all, since all risk considerations would have been correctly priced, in the interest rates, in the amounts and in the duration of the loans. But, since risk-models, credit ratings and market intuitions are often not perfect, the regulators needs to require the banks to hold some capital, to make sure that there is an adequate cushion provided by the shareholders who are profiting from the bank activity, before creditors and tax payers are called upon to help out. 

Unfortunately the current generation of bank regulators, stupidly, did not base their capital requirements for banks on the possibility of mistakes, but on precisely the same risk models, credit ratings and market intuitions… requiring for instance minimal equity when the perceived risk of default of a borrower seemed minimal.

And it is precisely there, where the perceived risks of default seem minimal, where the risks for a systemic bank crisis resides, as what is ex-ante perceived as “risky” does never grow into a dangerously sized exposure.

And so, instead of helping to cushion for the mistakes of the banks, the regulators, with their distortions, increased the probabilities of the mistakes being made, and their negative financial consequences. 

And that they did by allowing banks to hold only 1.6 percent in capital when investing in triple-A rated securities or lending to sovereigns like Greece, which implied an authorized leverage of 62.5 to 1, while at the same time requiring the banks to hold 8 percent in capital when lending to job creating small businesses and entrepreneurs, an authorized leverage of 12.5 to 1. And that they also did by allowing the banks to lend to the “infallible sovereigns” against no capital at all, where not even the sky was the limit on leverage. 

And that is why we got those monstrous large bank exposures to what was ex-ante officially perceived as not risky, and which have now, ex-post, exploded in the whole Western World. 

And that is why the “risky” small businesses and entrepreneurs find access to bank lending so curtailed and expensive.

The bank regulators need to be held fully accountable for what they did, because if we do not get to the bottom of this sad affair, neither won’t we get out of it.

Here´s a video that explains a fraction of the stupidity of our bank regulations, in an apolitical red and blue!