Guest author, Per Kurowski, on a rather sobering topic!
I do not know what worse, the arrogance of the regulators thinking they can squeeze out the risk in banking by imposing different and completely arbitrary capital requirements based on the opinions of some few human fallible credit rating agencies, or their childish innocence not knowing this creates systemic risks of gigantic proportions.
What I do know is that an amazing number of intelligent people have fallen for this absurd and extremely dangerous regulatory paradigm. Honestly… I am truly scared!
How could I not be with regulators who can authorize banks to leverage up 62.5 to 1 on public debts like Greece’s while at the same time placing a 12.5 to 1 ceiling on the lending to the small businesses and entrepreneurs whom we depend so much on for our jobs.
All those financial and regulatory experts who kept mum when they should have spoken out on the financial crisis about to happen are now, quite effectively, circling their wagons in order to promote the myth that no one knew. False many did! In order to benefit from the lessons we must learn, they should not be allowed to succeed.
On October 19, 2004, as an Executive Director of the World Bank (2002-2004) I presented a written formal statement at the Board and that included the following:
We [I] believe that much of the world’s financial markets are currently being dangerously overstretched through an exaggerated reliance on intrinsically weak financial models that are based on very short series of statistical evidence and very doubtful volatility assumptions.
And I was no investment banker, nor a regulator, nor an investor, and so to me it is clear that all of them, had they done their job right, should have known… and that this crisis should have been nipped in the bud much earlier, as
the real explosion in truly bad mortgages took off in 2004, when the SEC in April delegated the setting of the capital requirements for the investment banks to the Basel Committee, and the G10 in June approved Basel II.
In order to understand it all don’t follow the money… follow the AAAs. In case you missed “The Financial Crisis explained to dummies, non-experts and financial regulators” you can read it here.
By Per Kurowski
PS. I have put up a document that resumes most of what I said before and during my term as an Executive Director.