Friday, October 26, 2012

Helping the Financial Times’ experts to understand the distortions produced by risk-weighted capital requirements for banks

Since I do not belong to any Academic Community, or special sphere of influence, or mutual adoration club, I have very little voice, even when noisy, even when being an Executive Director of the World Bank, 2002-2004. 

So, in this respect I decided long ago to try to use the Financial Times as my channel to express my absolute rejection of bank regulations coming out from the Basel Committee. If for instance a Martin Wolf got to understand my arguments, he would be much more effective communicating these to the world than little me. 

What I had not counted on, were the immense difficulties in making the FT experts understand what I was talking about, even now after more than eight hundred letters on the subject. But, I am insistent, and I will manage to do so, one day. 

And so here below is another attempt to explain, in the simplest possible terms, so that perhaps even FT experts could understand, if they wanted to, the distortions produced by the risk-weighted capital requirements for banks, and which represent the pillar of Basel II and III regulations.

If for instance a German bank, lent to Greece as one of “The semi-Infallible” Greece was rated just a couple of years ago then, according to Basel II, if it could earn doing so a 1 percent net after perceived risk and cost, then it could earn 62.5 percent on its equity. But, if instead lent to a small German or Greek unrated business and earn the same net margin then it could only achieve 12.5 percent on equity. Does this make any sense to FT? Sincerely I cannot think so. And yet, what am I suppose to think?

And so the result is a world with dangerous obese bank exposures to “The Infallible”, and for us equally dangerous anorexic exposure to “The Risky”, and all aggravated by the fact that even the most infallible safe-haven can become extremely dangerous, if overpopulated. 

Capisce FT, or do I need to explain it again?