Monday, November 14, 2011

The lunacy and the obscenity of current bank regulations

If risk models, credit ratings and market intuitions were perfect, then a bank would really not need any capital at all, since all risk considerations would have been correctly priced, in the interest rates, in the amounts and in the duration of the loans. But, since risk-models, credit ratings and market intuitions are often not perfect, the regulators should require the banks to hold some capital, to make sure that there is an adequate cushion provided by the shareholders who are profiting from the bank activity, before creditors and tax payers are called upon to help out.

Unfortunately the Basel Committee generation of bank regulators, did not base their capital requirements for banks on the possibility of mistakes, but on precisely the same risk models, credit ratings and market intuitions… requiring for instance minimal equity when the perceived risk of default of a borrower seemed minimal. In other words instead of helping to cushion for the mistakes the regulators, with their distortions, increased the probabilities of mistakes being made, and their financial consequences.

Also, the obscene bank bonuses, based on obscene bank profits, are more the product of some obscene low capital requirements, than the product of good banking. If you earn an expected margin of 1 percent lending to Greece, and leveraged that on your capital 62 times, as the banks were explicitly authorized to do, then your expected return on that bank equity would be 62 percent a year… who would not lend to Greece?

The bank regulators, who are the ones most responsible for causing the current financial crisis that is menacing the Western World, need to be paraded down Fifth Avenue and Champs-Élysées wearing cones of shame… and to be barred, for life, from all regulatory activity.

We urgently need regulators who also understand that risk-taking by the banks is like oxygen to our economies, and therefore understand the need for not rewarding any excessive risk-adverseness... so as to also avoid, the so dangerous overcrowding of the ex-ante safe havens.

Here´s a video that explains a fraction of the stupidity of our bank regulations, in an apolitical red and blue!