Sunday, July 9, 2017

What if traffic regulators, to make your town safe, limited motorcycles to 8 mph but allowed cars to speed at 62 mph?

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in cars is 1.14
The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in motorcycles is 21.45

That could indicate that in terms of risks measured and expressed as credit ratings, the cars should be rated AAA, and motorcycles below BB-.

But in 2011, in the US, 4,612 persons died in motorcycle accidents.
And in 2011, in the US, 32,479 persons died in vehicle accidents.

That explains the differences between ex-ante perceived risk and the ex-post dangers conditioned by the ex-ante perceptions. Cars are more dangerous to the society than motorcycles, in much because the latter are perceived as much riskier.

But what did bank regulators do in Basel II, 2004?

By weighting for ex-ante perceived risks their basic capital requirement of 8%, they allowed banks to leverage 62.5 times to 1 when AAA-ratings were present, and 8.3 times in the case of below BB- ratings.

So, what if traffic regulators, in order to make your hometown safe, limited motorcycles to 8 mph but allowed cars to speed at 62 mph?

Do you see why I argue that current bank regulators in the Basel Committee and in the Financial Stability Board have no idea about what they are doing?

But it is even worse. We need SMEs and entrepreneurs to access bank credit in order to generate future opportunities for our kids. Unfortunately, since when starting out these usually have to drive more risky motorcycles than safe cars, our future real economy gets also slapped in the face. 

An 8% capital requirement translates into a 12.5 to 1 leverage. Why can’t our regulators allow banks to speed through our economy at 12.5mph, independently of whether they go by cars or motorcycles?