Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Basel Committee, FSB and other bank regulators know dangerously little about risks. Why? Here it is!

What many perceive as very safe can lead to the build up of very large exposures that could threaten the bank system.

What many perceive as very risky never leads to the build up such large exposures that it could threaten the bank system.

Yet the Basel Committee, in Basel II of 2004, assigned a risk weight of only 20% to what rated AAA to AA and therefore so dangerous to the banking system, and one of 150% to what is rated below BB- and therefore so innocuous to the banking system.

The Basel Committee has refused to explain why they did so, and the only document purported to explain it, is pure GroupThink mumbo jumbo.

Additionally, risk weighted capital requirements for banks allow banks to leverage their equity differently with different assets, which produces quite different expected risk adjusted returns on equity than would have been the case in the absence of such regulations, and therefore this dramatically distorts the allocation of bank credit to the real economy. It introduced rampant risk aversion that have our banks no longer financing the riskier future, only refinancing the safer past.

Additionally, without obtaining due permission, the Basel Committee assigned a risk weight of 0% to a set of friendly sovereigns and 100% for the We the People of such sovereigns. This introduced rampant statism. As if government bureaucrats could use bank credit better than the private sector.

I have tried by all means possible to get explanations from the Basel Committee, even by using their formal consultation procedures, but all to no avail.

Please, you in the media who have more access to bank regulators ask them: Why do you think the below BB- rated are more dangerous to the bank system than the AAA rated?

Have you never heard of Voltaire’s “May God defend me from my friends, I can defend myself from my enemies”?

We also have John A Shedd (1850-1926) with his: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.”

With respect to that the Basel Committee is not only not allowing our banks to sail to explore riskier but perhaps more profitable bays, but it is also assuring to turn safe havens into overpopulated death traps. 

For our children and grandchildren’s case, help me to get rid of those dangerously incapable regulators.

P.S. Like during the Oscar it seems that at the Basel Committee there was also a mix-up of envelopes, in this case of those containing the names of what is the most and the least risky for our bank system. The saddest fact is that at the Oscar they got it fast, 2 minutes and 30 seconds, but in Basel they have yet to discover it after more than a decade.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A pre-reading it comment on Mercatus Center’s Tyler Cowen’s “The Complacent Class”

Note: I have not read Tyler Cowen’s “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream” yet, as it is still not available. If it contains something that would contradict the following comment that would be great welcomed news. 

In Foreign Affairs we can read: “Tyler Cowen’s timely and well-written book points to a central feature of contemporary American life: since the 1980s, U.S. society has become less dynamic and more risk averse. The quest for safety and predictability has made the country both more and less comfortable than before. Although many (perhaps even most) Americans enjoy the stability and security that the status quo provides, increasing numbers feel thwarted by the lack of opportunity and slow economic growth that characterize their increasingly static society.” 

And I ask, how could that not be when bank regulators introduced risk weighted capital requirements for banks? That primarily happened in 1988 with Basel I and in 2004 with Basel II. 

And the risk weights imposed were such as: Sovereign 0%, AAA-risktocracy 20%, residential houses 35%, We the People, like unrated SMEs and entrepreneurs 100%, and below BB-rated 150%.

That clearly gives banks all the incentives (higher allowed leverages) to finance and refinance much more what is ex ante perceived, decreed or concocted as safe, most often what derives from something that already is known and exists; and to stop financing the unknown riskier future. In other words those regulations imposed risk aversion on the Home of the Brave. 

That, in the short term, not only guarantees a static society, but worse, medium and long term, it causes a falling society. 

It is perfectly understandable that those with Statist inclinations, and who in the 0% risk weight for the sovereign must see their wet dreams come true, don’t say a word about the distortions in the allocation of bank credit those regulations cause… and this even though this regulation actually decrees that inequality they so much tell us they abhor. 

But, that professors from a Mercatus Center at George Mason University that presents itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas”, keeps hush about this all, really makes me sad. 

But, that professors from a Mercatus Center at George Mason University that presents itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas”, keeps hush about this all, really blows my mind. What keeps them from seeing the problem? A peculiar confirmation bias?

PS. In 2011 I already commented about this to Tyler Cowen, when sending him by email what I wrote to Martin Wolf with respect to his "The Great Stagnation"

PS. And there is enough evidence on the web about how I have commented on this issue, time after time, on blogs run by Professors of the Mercatus Center.