Friday, October 13, 2017

It behooves us to revise the purposes of our banks, as these are defined by current capital requirements

The lower a capital requirement is, the higher can a bank leverage its equity, the higher is the risk adjusted return on equity it can obtain.

Risk weights of: sovereign 0%, AAA rated 20%, residential housing 35% and unrated SMEs 100%, clearly indicate that the de facto purpose regulators have imposed on banks, is to finance sovereigns, those who already enjoy the lowest risk-premiums, and those buying houses and therefore implicitly house prices. 

Regulators have told us this is so that our banks are made safe. Silly! Our bank systems are never threatened by “risky” SMEs and entrepreneurs, only by that perceived ex ante as very safe and that ex post turns out to be very risky. 

I would expect much more from our banks, like financing development, sustainability and job creation; and I would assume many would agree with me.

If we want that produced by banks, by means of allocating credit as efficiently as possible to the real economy, then we should make sure every single bank asset, except for cash, generates exactly the same capital requirement.

Now if regulators absolutely insist on nudging, so to be perceived as earning their pay, then perhaps they could base their capital requirements on how the asset helps to finance development, sustainability and job creation.

And, if regulators want to be really sophisticated about it, then the could even fill each box of a purpose/credit risk matrix with individual capital requirements… always of course remembering the golden rule of the riskier it seems ex ante the safer it is ex post. 

PS. Perhaps the capital requirements could even be slightly based on gender, so as to give women some compensation for all the disadvantages we are told they suffer. (Psst some tell me that loans to women also carry less risk)