Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Current regulators in the Basel Committee, and in the Financial Stability Board need to be fired!

Bankers are expected to guard the front door from all expected losses entering their business, and this they do by means of interest rates, size of exposures and other terms. Though sometimes one or another banker fails in doing that, in general, as a system, they perform quite well.

But the banker cannot guard the back-door, that of the unexpected losses too, because were he to do so, he would not be able to attend competitively his ordinary business at the front door.

And so it is the regulators’ responsibility to make sure that the back door is sufficiently guarded. Unfortunately, current regulators, explicitly for reasons of simplicity, stupidly decided to guard against unexpected losses, with a wall which height was determined based on the perceptions of expected losses.

And to top it up, also explicitly for reasons of simplicity, they decided And that means that “expected losses” are considered twice, while the “unexpected losses” are ignored.

And that means that the banking system overdoses on perceptions of expected losses, something which make it impossible for banks to allocate credit efficiently in the real economy.

And that means that when some unexpected losses occur, usually in assets previously deemed as safe, the risk of banks not having sufficient capital has dramatically increased.

The leverage ratio, that which is not based on risk-weights, was to partially solve one problem, though of course that of the distortion would remain, as other risk-weighted capital requirements would still be in place.

But the way the Basel Committee seems now proceeding to dilute the leverage ratio, seemingly even introducing risk-weighting for off-balance sheet items, while if something needed to be diluted was the discriminations produced by risk-weights, is evidence that the regulators really do not know what they are doing. And it therefore behooves us to fire them… urgently.