Monday, July 10, 2017

Could a hostile power create bank regulations capable of destroying our Western financial system? It would seem so :-(

David Bookstaber in his “The End of Theory”, 2017 refers to the following question:

“If you were a hostile foreign power, how could you disrupt or destroy the U.S. financial system? That is how do you create a crisis?

Well one way to do it begins, as does any strategic offensive, with the right timing. Wait until the system exposes a vulnerability. Maybe that is when it’s filled with leverage, and when assets become shaky.”

Then Bookstaber suggests: “create a fire sale by pressing down prices to trigger forced selling…freeze funding by destroying confidence… maybe pull out your money from some institutions with some drama… and to make money, short the market before you start pushing things off the cliff”

That is Bookstaber’s interesting tale on what “turned the vulnerabilities of 2006 and 2007 into the crisis of 2008, and nearly destroyed our system.” “And we didn’t need an enemy power; we did it all by ourselves.

But what if it all had started with a hostile foreign power taking over bank regulations in order to create the vulnerabilities?

I mean like telling banks they could hold 1.6% in capital or less, meaning a 62.5 to 1 or more leverage, against assets with an AAA rating (like some fatal MBS) or against sovereigns, like Greece. That would give banks the chance to earn fabulous expected risk adjusted margins on those assets, and therefore build up huge exposures to these against very little capital (equity).

I ask, because that was exactly what the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision did with its Basel II of 2004.

And to top it up their AAA-bomb was so powerful that, because it discriminates against the access to bank credit of “the risky”, like SMEs and entrepreneurs, the economy would find it almost impossible to recover on its own; and the crisis-can had to be kicked further and further down the road, with Tarps, QEs, fiscal deficits and silly low interest rates?