Saturday, October 22, 2016

The almost 600 year long history of banks changed dramatically, for the worse, in 1988, with the Basel Accord.

If we use the Medici Bank as the first bank, it was established in 1397. From there on, until 1988, a bank’s capital (equity) followed the simple “one for all and all for one” principle. 

Then with the Basel Accord, Basel I, the regulators introduced risk weighted capital requirements for the banks. More ex ante perceived risk more capital – less risk less capital. That had serious and non-transparent consequences for the borrowers, for the economy, for bank stability and for the balance between the government and We the People.

It promoted inequality among the borrowers:

The ex ante perceived “risky” borrowers, those who precisely because of those perceptions, already got less credit and had to pay higher interest rates, now also had to face the costs of generating higher capital requirements for banks; while the ex ante perceived “sage” borrowers, those who precisely because of those perceptions, already got more credit and had to pay lower interest rates, now also received the subsidy of generating lower capital requirements for banks.

It stopped the economy to move forward, so it stalls and falls

Banks, because of the higher leverage allowed with assets perceived as safe, obtained higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity when financing, the “safe” than when financing the “risky”, like SMEs. The new regulations stopped banks from financing the riskier future and mostly dedicate themselves to refinance the safer past and present. They now finance safe basements where jobless kids can live with parents, but not the SMEs that could get the kids jobs.

It destabilized the bank system.

By assigning ultra low capital requirements for what was perceived as safe it caused the dangerous overpopulation of “safe havens”, like the AAA rated securities built-up with lousy mortgages to the subprime sector… and against very little capital.

It brought in statism thru the bathroom window.

Risk weights of 0% for the Sovereign and 100% for We the People, expresses unabridged statism in that it, de facto, implies regulators think government bureaucrats are able to use bank credit better than SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Just try to imagine what the Médicis would have said about assigning a 0% risk weight to the Sovereign?

PS. Here's a more extensive aide memoire on some of the monstrosities of such regulations