Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Have the risk weights used in current bank regulations really been approved by the US Congress, in accordance to the Constitution?

As a Venezuelan I regretfully know much too much about the violations of a Constitution, but I cannot say that I know much about the Constitution of the United States.

For instance, the Constitution of the United States of America, in Section 8 states, “The Congress shall have the power to…fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.”

And I know that bank regulators, by setting risk weights determine how much capital (equity) banks need to hold against different assets... which means that banks will be able to obtain different risk adjusted returns on equity for different assets.

And so I ask, did the United States Congress really approve those risk weights? I say this because I find that concept to be anathema to “The Home of the Brave”.

And I also ask because the US Constitution, in its section 9 states: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States”… and that seems precisely what the US might have allowed by allowing regulatory preferences, much lower risk weights, on loans to the Sovereign (the Monarch) and to an AAAristocracy... or more precisely an AAArisktocracy.

And what are those risk weights? The sovereign, meaning the government, meaning bureaucrats deciding on the use of bank credit was given 0%, the “AAArisktocracy” 20%, and WE THE PEOPLE are deemed to be 100% 

But what do these risk weights really signify? The answer is quite straightforward. Those with low risk weights will have even more access at even easier terms to bank credit, than what the natural order of banking would give them. And so those with higher risk weights will, consequentially, have less even access to bank credit and have to pay even more for it, than what the natural order of banking would give them.

And so, in words of Mark Twain, this means that bankers are even much more prone than usual to lend out the umbrella when the sun shines, and to take it back when it rains.

And the tragic consequences for the US are many:

It increases the inequality gap between The Infallible and the Risky

It stops bank from financing the future and make them mostly refinance the past.

And in the case of the sovereign, it translates into an effective subsidy of the interest rates paid by the Government, and so everyone is flying blind, not knowing what the real not subsidized risk free rate would be.

And the list goes on...