Monday, May 17, 2010

You need to learn think more about your financial regulations in terms of national security.

If you deposit you money in your local bank the current bank regulations stipulate the following:

If your bank relends that money to a sovereign rated AAA, like the US Government, then it needs no capital at all, meaning being allowed an unlimited leverage;

If it lends to a sovereign country that has been rated A+ to A, like Greece was from July 2000 until December 2009, or to a private client rated AAA, then it needs only 1.6 percent capital, implying that a leverage of 62.5 to one is allowed;

But, if it lends it to a small businesses or entrepreneurs, those on whom we depend so much for our jobs, those who cannot afford being rated by the raters, those who the banks are supposed to help while they make it to the capital markets, then your bank is required to have 8 percent in capital and need to limit their leverage to 12.5 to one.

This means that what is perceived as having low risks and which therefore already benefits from lower interest is now additionally benefitted by generating very lower capital requirements; while what is perceived as having higher risks and which is therefore already punished with higher interest rates, is, in relative terms, further punished by having to cover the costs of the higher capital requirements they generate.

That signifies that, in the land of the brave, the regulators, in a very non-transparent way, have created a totally arbitrary subsidy of risk adverseness, which is changing the character of your country, for no good reason at all, like the current crisis proves.

These regulations created a huge demand for anything rated AAA, and the market, being what it is, supplied AAAs, though most of them were naturally fakes, since we all know there is very little in life so truly free of risks that it can merit an AAA.

Besides, even if the credit rating agencies were to be 100% accurate in their ratings, who can guarantee us that the future of this, or any other country, is to be found in never-risk-land. Risk is the oxygen of any development. I ask how can you risk the life of your sons and daughter for the future of your country and not risk your money with those most likely to take your country forward.

And that is why you have to learn think of your financial regulation more in terms of national security.

What should be done? For the time being, while the banks are slowly rebuilding their capitals to cover for all the losses incurred in triple-A rated operations, we should at least lower their capital requirements when lending to the small businesses and entrepreneurs, who had nothing to do with creating this financial crisis.