Friday, January 8, 2016

World Bank, the credit risk weighted capital requirements for banks promote financial instability and exclusion

And I wonder if they are still going to ignore the distortions produced by the credit risk weighted capital requirements for banks; more risk, more capital – less risk less capital.

These capital requirements allow banks to leverage more with “the safe” than with “the risky”; which means banks will earn higher risk adjusted returns on equity lending to “the safe” than when lending to “the risky”; which means banks will lend too much to “the safe” and too little to “the risky”. And that will:

Promote financial instability since all major bank crisis have always resulted from excessive exposures to something ex ante perceived as safe but that ex post resulted risky.… in this case aggravated by the fact that banks against that hold especially little capital.

Promote exclusion, as it odiously discriminates against the risky… like SMEs and entrepreneurs.

I quote John Kenneth Galbraith from “Money: Whence it came where it went” 1975. “The function of credit in a simple society is, in fact, remarkably egalitarian. It allows the man with energy and no money to participate in the economy more or less on a par with the man who has capital of his own. And the more casual the conditions under which credit is granted and hence the more impecunious those accommodated, the more egalitarian credit is… Bad banks, unlike good, loaned to the poor risk, which is another name for the poor man.”

And when will the World Bank, the world’s premier development bank remind the world of that risk-taking is the oxygen of any development.

Again I quote John Kenneth Galbraith from “Money: Whence it came where it went” 1975. “For the new parts of the country [USA’s West]… there was the right to create banks at will and therewith the notes and deposits that resulted from their loans…[if] the bank failed…someone was left holding the worthless notes… but some borrowers from this bank were now in business...[jobs created]... It was an arrangement which reputable bankers and merchants in the East viewed with extreme distaste… Men of economic wisdom, then as later expressing the views of the reputable business community, spoke of the anarchy of unstable banking… The men of wisdom missed the point. The anarchy served the frontier far better than a more orderly system that kept a tight hand on credit would have done…. what is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectfully affluent.”

In March 2003, as an Executive Director of the World Bank I gave the following formal statement on this:

And soon 12 years later, I am still waiting L