Monday, June 2, 2014

No! Bank regulators, much more than they deregulated, just regulated amazingly bad.

Here is an interview by Econ Focus of Richmond Fed with Mark Gertler, which repeats the falsehood of bank regulators believing too much in the market.

Gertler: The biggest mistakes probably involved too much deregulation.

Econ Focus: What do you think is the best explanation for the policies that were pursued? 

Gertler: At the time, I think it was partly unbridled belief in the market — that financial markets are competitive markets, and they ought to function well, not taking into account that any individual is just concerned about his or her welfare, not about the market as a whole or the exposure of the market as v a whole. 

I am sorry. That is simply not true. 

Anyone with any reasonable belief in the market being able to allocate credit adequately in the economy… would never ever have interfered by means of setting the capital requirements for banks based on risks which were already cleared for by banks. 

That resulted in banks earning much higher risk-adjusted returns on equity when financing what is ex ante perceived as “safe”, than when financing what is ex ante perceived as “risky”, something which of course distorts all common sense out of bank credit allocation.

For instance, Basel II had it that if a European bank made a loan to a medium and small business, an entrepreneur or a start up, then it needed to hold 8 percent in capital, a leverage of 12.5 to 1, but, if it purchased AAA rated securities, then it needed to hold only 1.6 percent in capital, a leverage of 62.5 to 1. And that of course had Europe buying the securitized subprime mortgages like if there was no tomorrow… and so did the investment banks when authorized by the SEC to follow the Basel rules.

In other words... bank regulators did not believe in the markets... they believed in themselves being the Masters of the Universe, capable of managing risks for the whole banking world.

In other words... bank regulators instead of concerning themselves with any "unexpected losses", which is what they should do, decided to also manage the expected losses.

In other words... bank regulators were just amazingly bad. In terms of Bill Easterly... God save us from the tyranny of experts.