Thursday, October 7, 2010

Today I had a great day!

For someone who since 1997 has been opposing the regulatory paradigm used by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, even as an Executive Director of the World Bank 2002-2004, today was a great day.

As a member of Civil Society, whatever that now means, at a City Society Town-hall Meeting during the 2010 Annual Meetings, I had the opportunity to pose the following question to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and to Robert B. Zoellick, the President of the World Bank:

“Right now, when a bank lends money to a small business or an entrepreneur it needs to put up 5 TIMES more capital than when lending to a triple-A rated clients. When is the World Bank and the IMF speak out against such odious discrimination that affects development and job creation, for no good particular reason since bank and financial crisis have never occurred because of excessive investments or lending to clients perceived as risky?”

Dominique Strauss-Kahn answered in no uncertain terms that “capital requirement discrimination has no reason to be” and Robert B. Zoellick agreed and pointed to what he has done in order to diminish the regulatory discrimination against trade finance.

The question that now floats around there out in the open, is what the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the supreme global regulatory authority, has to say about that, because bank capital requirement discriminations based on perceived risks is precisely the heart and soul of their regulatory paradigm.

Real development does not occur in a safe attraction park

Developed countries’ bank regulators came up with the notion that if they required banks to have more capital when they invested or lent to someone perceive as more risky by the credit rating agencies and less capital when they invested or lent to someone perceived as less risky, then their banks would never default again and everyone would live forever happy.

Of course in order to believe in that illusion they had to ignore the historic truth that no financial or bank crisis has ever occurred from excessive lending or investment in what is perceived as risky, the markets and bankers are much too coward for that, they have all resulted from excessive lending or investment in what is perceived as not risky.

But we developing countries and emerging countries, we know better that without intelligent risk-taking, primarily by our bankers, there will be no development… and that the thought of risk-free development could only happen in a Disney sponsored super safe developer’s attraction park, not in the real world.

I beg and I beg and I beg again for the World Bank to lift the banner of risk-taking in the name of development and in the name of the developing and emerging countries.

If the developed world feel they have reached a plateau were they just want to try to defend what they have and are so desperate in avoiding risks, well that is their problem. They will be un-developing and submerging… but the rest of us cannot afford to do so... under any circumstances.

Enanitos Verdes phrase it so right when they sing about their need and their right of “having to run the risk of getting up, in order to keep on falling”