Thursday, June 30, 2016

When will bank regulators stop making bankers’ wet dreams come true and do more for the beautiful dreams of our young?

What is a banker’s wet dream? Presumably to earn a lot of return on equity while not having to take risks. And the regulators granted that dream by allowing banks to have especially little capital against assets perceived as safe. Little capital means high leverage, and which means high-expected risk adjusted returns on equity. So banks just refinance the "safer" past.

What could our young ones dream of? To find decent jobs that allows them to form families and earn sufficiently to maintain these well. And that we know requires a lot of SMEs and entrepreneurs to open up new roads and ways to jobs in the real economy. But these dreams are denied by the regulators when requiring banks to hold more capital when lending to the “risky” than when lending to the safe. More capital means lower leverage, and which means lower expected risk adjusted returns on equity. So banks do not finance the "riskier" future.

And the current nightmare is that regulators are not even aware of what their credit risk aversion is doing. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” John A Shedd

And the current nightmare is that regulators are not even aware that for the banking system, what’s perceived as safe, is the only that can generate those dangerous excessive exposures that bring on crises.  “May God defend me from my friends [what’s safe]: I can defend myself from my enemies [what’s risky]” Voltaire

Here is an aide-mémoire that explains some incredible mistakes in the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, the pillar of current regulations.