De Britse banken geven nog steeds het verkeerde voorbeeld

WASHINGTON, DC – De duivel schuilt zoals altijd in de details. En in ons economische tijdperk schuilen de grootste duivels in de details van de manier waarop de toezichthouders naar het kapitaal – het aandelenkapitaal – van onze grootste banken kijken. Overheidsfunctionarissen hebben zich veel te veel geïdentificeerd met de verwrongen, op zelfbelang gebaseerde kijk op de wereld van mondiale bankmanagers. Het gevolg is een groot gevaar voor de rest van ons.

In deze surreële wereld heeft Groot-Brittannië een onevenredig grote invloed, omdat Londen nog steeds een toonaangevend financieel centrum is – en omdat de grootste banken in de Verenigde Staten en Europa zeer effectief zijn gebleken in het tegen elkaar uitspelen van Amerikaanse en Britse toezichthouders. Opinieleiders over de hele wereld kijken naar de Britten om met een slimme en genuanceerde aanpak van het beleid voor de financiële sector te komen. Helaas kijken ze momenteel tevergeefs.

Om dit specifieke probleem te begrijpen, moet je in de jongste details duiken van de zogenoemde “capital shortfall exercise” (een onderzoek naar eventuele kapitaaltekorten) van de Prudential Regulatory Authority bij acht grote Britse banken. Ik zal niet pretenderen dat het werk van de PRA voor een leek makkelijk te doorgronden is; maar iedereen die zich een tijdlang over de documenten buigt, zal eerst moeten lachen en vervolgens moeten huilen.

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