Sunday, July 26, 2009

BIS on the crisis and remedies

"And, in the future, a financial firm that is too big or too interconnected to fail must be too big to exist."

The Bank for International Settlements Annual Report is probably the only one that I read regularly for its content, rather than mine it for data. It contains authoritative interpretation of recent economic and financial developments, and is thus an important source of consensus narrative. This year's report is no exception.

Of particular relevance going forward is its chapter VII, outlining the current thinking about capital requirements by evaluating a Systemic Capital Charge and a Countercyclical Capital Charge. However, these capital charges appear to continue to rely on portfolio theory's (stable?) correlations, which is conceptually flawed, as we now know. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see that countercyclicality is addressed not with perceptional placebos such as modified accounting standards, but with measures aiming at the economic heart of the matter, namely leverage and the capital base. Last, but not least: if Too Big to Fail were a victim of the crisis, it would have been worth it.

No comments: