Saturday, April 15, 2017

When banks play it too safe - putting inequality on steroids - the McKinsey silence

In his April 9 Outlook essay, “Public Policy, Inc.,” Daniel W. Drezner, writing about how consultancies such as McKinsey have started to act like policy knowledge brokers, mentioned that these “have their own biases.” Indeed.

Bankers love to hold assets perceived as safe against very little capital. It helps them earn great risk-adjusted returns on equity.

But we citizens have no reason for loving that:

By going too much for the safe, banks will not lend sufficiently to the riskier entrepreneurs who are the prime builders of our grandchildren’s future. Sooner or later, banks will get caught with little capital holding dangerously large exposures to something that was perceived safe but that turned out risky. Depositors and taxpayers will suffer.

There is no question that banks are more important clients for consultant companies such as McKinsey than citizens are. That must be why financial consultants have not denounced how the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s risk-weighted capital requirements for banks dangerously distort the allocation of bank credit to the real economy.

Millions of entrepreneurs around the world have, as a direct consequence of these capital requirements, been denied the opportunity of bank credit. Talk about putting inequality on steroids. 

Per Kurowski, Rockville
The writer was an executive director at the World Bank from 2002 to 2004.