Thursday, July 13, 2017

With Basel II, how many times could banks multiply net risk adjusted margins, so as to obtain their returns on equity?

The expected pretax return on equity for banks is the amount of net risk adjusted margins they earn over the capital they need to hold.

For instance if banks had to hold the 8% basic capital requirement defined in Basel II, they could leverage (multiply) those net risk adjusted margins 12.5 times. And so if a bank wanted to earn a 20% pre tax ROE, it would need to collect an average net risk adjusted margin of 1.6% (20%/12.5) on assets equivalent to 12.5 times its capital.

Clearly, the more banks can leverage (multiply) those net risk adjusted margins, the higher the expected return on its equity, or the lower do those margins need to be.

For instance if banks had to hold only 1.6% in capital they would be able to leverage (multiply) those net risk adjusted margins 62.5 times. And so if banks wanted to earn the same 20% pre tax ROE as before, they would need to collect an average net risk adjusted margin of only 0.32% (20%/12.5) on assets equivalent to 62.5 times its capital. If the bank was abled to collect the same 1.6% average net risk adjusted margins, then its expected ROE would be a whopping 100%. 

The problem (for us) though, of Basel II, is that it, based on credit ratings, risk adjusted the capital requirements. And so, according to Basel II’s standardized risk weights, the banks were allowed to multiply their net risk adjusted margins the following way: 

AAA to AA = Unlimited
A+ to A = 62.5 times
BBB+ to BBB- 25 times
BB+ to B- = 12.5 times
Below B- = 8.3 times
Unrated = 12.5 times

AAA to AA = 62.5 times
A+ to A = 25 times
BBB+ to BB- = 12.5 times
Below BB- = 8.3 times
Unrated = 12.5 times

Residential mortgages = 35.7 times

Anyone who does not immediately understand how this distorts the allocation of bank credit; in favour of those who can have their net margin offers multiplied more by banks; and against those who have these multiplied less, does not understand finance, or has a vested interest in not wanting to understand it.

Can there be any question that these regulations pushed banks overboard with exposures to AAA rated securities and loans to sovereigns, like to Greece?

But, someone might say, this is all in order to make banks safer. Bullshit! There has never ever been a major bank crisis resulting from excessive exposures to something perceived as risky when placed on banks’ balance sheets.

Of course with Basel III, which has a leverage ratio that is not risk depended, the differences in the times net risk adjusted margins can be multiplied are smaller, but that does not mean for one second that the Basel discrimination keeps on being kicking and alive.

God help our young… God help our Western civilization. These idiotic risk-adverse regulators are hindering banks from financing our young ones’ riskier future, and have banks only refinancing their parents’ (and their regulators’) safer present and past. 

Risk-taking is the oxygen of development. God make us daring!