Saturday, June 2, 2012

Are bank regulators stupid, immoral, or both?

If free to do so, insurance companies charge more and insure for lesser amounts those who have a precondition, and that is as should be expected, or in other words, something normal. But suppose the insurance companies had to charge even more to insure someone with precondition, only because a regulator, in order to safeguard the insurance company, decided to impose a risk-tax on those with a precondition… would you consider that stupid or immoral? I myself would consider that to be both stupid and immoral. And so hear me out:

If a banker perceives a borrower to be risky he will charge him higher interest, lend him less and probably negotiate some harsher conditions to compensate for that… but that is all just again, normal and natural market discrimination. 

And, traditionally, bankers have proven to be almost too effective in adjusting to perceived risks; not only as noticed by Mark Twain, when describing them as those who lend you the umbrella when the sun is out and wanting it back when it looks like it is going to rain; but also by the fact that there never ever has been a bank crisis that has resulted from excessive lending to those ex ante perceived as risky. 

But, when the regulators, based on the same perceptions of risk that the banker see, decided to allow the banks to hold less equity when lending to those officially perceived as not-risky; we are effectively in the presence of an artificial regulatory discrimination against those perceived as risky… and that, as I see it, is both incredibly stupid and outright immoral.