Thursday, October 7, 2010

Today I had a great day

For someone who since 1997 has been opposing the regulatory paradigm used by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, even as an Executive Director of the World Bank 2002-2004, today was a great day.

As a member of Civil Society, whatever that now means, at a Civil Society Town-hall Meeting during the 2010 Annual Meetings, I had the opportunity to pose a question to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and to Robert B. Zoellick, the President of the World Bank:

My question: (minute 47:35) “Right now, when a bank lends money to a small business or an entrepreneur it needs to put up 5 TIMES more capital than when lending to a triple-A rated clients. When is the World Bank and the IMF speak out against such odious discrimination that affects development and job creation, for no good particular reason since bank and financial crisis have never occurred because of excessive investments or lending to clients perceived as risky?”

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's answer: (minute 1:01:05) "Well, the question about requirements, a couple of requirements for banks. You know, it's a very technical question and a very difficult one, but the way you asked the question, which is why there any kind of discrimination against SMEs is an interesting way of looking at that. In fact, there is no reason to have any kind of discrimination. The right thing for the Bank is to know whether or not their borrower is reliable, but you can be as reliable being a small enterprise than not reliable when you're a big company. So this kind of systematic discrimination has, in our view, no reason to be.

Robert B. Zoellick's answer: (minute 1:16:30) "On the new rules for global finance, you asked when would speak up on the bank capital. I've been doing so for two years. It's all over the website, because I started with trade finance, knowing that field pretty well. Pascal Lamy, the head of the WTO, and I have led a campaign that said you're going to make it harder for trade finance for developing countries if you have higher capital levels for doing trade finance. So we've pressed very hard on that issue. You get an advanced notice, because tomorrow morning I'll be doing a PowerPoint briefing of all the Governors, and what I'll be mentioning is that for developing countries as a whole, we are seeing foreign direct investment go up, access to bond markets go up, but a net negative inflow of banks, in part, because I think of some of the capital standards and other regulatory issues."

The question that now floats around there out in the open, is what the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the supreme global regulatory authority, has to say about that, because bank capital requirement discriminations based on perceived risks is precisely the heart and soul of their regulatory paradigm… without that they have nothing!