Thursday, April 21, 2016

Let us tell the story of the Basel Committee’s risk weighted capital requirements for banks this way:

This happened during a meeting in the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision

Q. Colleagues, how on earth can we stop banks from failing? 

A. Well they must avoid taking risks?

Q. Absolutely! But how do we stop them from taking risks?

A. Perhaps by giving them great incentives to make their profits where it is safe?

Q. Sounds great! Any idea how?

A. Well we could allow them to leverage much more when lending to what is safe than when lending to what is risky.

Q. How would that help?

A. Well then the banks could obtain higher risk adjusted rates of return on lending to what is safe than on lending to what is risky.

Q. But, could that not distort the allocation of credit to the real economy?

A. Oh that is not our problem. We are just here to make banks safe. 

Q. But, what if something perceived as safe turns out to be risky?

A. Don’t be so negative. We will deal with that later if it ever happens.

Q. But could not someone argue we are introducing a regulatory discrimination against The Risky?

A. Who cares? The sovereign will be more than happy if we give it a zero percent risk weighting. The banks, making their best profits on what is safe, will only have their wettest wet dreams realized. And the risky, the SMEs and entrepreneurs, they have no voice… hey they are not even invited to the World Economic Forum at Davos… there we only meet the AAArisktocracy.

Q. Dear colleague, you have convinced all of us… let us go for it. By the way, what is your name?

A. Chauncey Gardiner Sir