Sunday, March 6, 2016

Most concerns about derivatives derive from the fact that it sounds so deligtfully sophisticated

In a derivative, there is a buyer and a seller, and so whatever happens someone wins and someone loses and in essence it’s a wash out… of course as long as all can live up to their commitments.

But, in a real market loss, like that of a lower value of a stock, a lower value of a painting, or a lower value of a real estate, there is at that time only a loser… and no winner… that is unless you count he who way back have earlier sold the stock.

And in this respect the trading in derivatives will depress much less the market than a depression of the values of the underlying vanilla assets.

The big fuss that is raised around the issue of trading of derivatives, again, besides the possibility of one side of the trade not living up to his commitments, has much more to do with the fact that “derivatives” sounds so delightfully sophisticated when you let it roll down your tongue.

But topping that must be the introduction of “delta, vega and curvature risk” into the discussions. Just read the index of the Basel Committee’s “Minimum capital requirements for market risk” of January 2016. Mindboggling! Do those who are responsible for what is coming out of the Basel Committee truly understand the implications of that for the banking system?

I am quite sure that John Kenneth Galbraith’s “If one is pretending to knowledge one does not have, one cannot ask for explanations to support possible objections”, applies to most bank regulators… perhaps to all.