Monday, 21 July 2008

Eat (a little of) what you kill

FT alphaville is I fear too tough on some of the European Commission's proposals to alter the Capital Requirements Directive. There is in fact much to like about the Commission's original approach (if not its subsequent pirouettes). The key section of the original is:
the originator credit institution shall calculate the risk-weighted exposure amounts ... for the positions that it may hold in the securitisation. The risk-weighted exposure amounts for the originator credit institution shall not be less than [15%] of the risk-weighted exposure amounts of the securitised exposures had they not been securitised.
This is really good. It means that institutions cannot get rid of more than 85% of the capital, whatever they do, and so they are encouraged to keep at least 15% of the risk. I would feel happier with 25%, but 15% is a good start at ensuring alignment of interests.

Of course the objection to this is that - since this is an EU rather than a Basel proposal - it leads to a competitive disadvantage to EU banks. For here we get the Commission's suggestion of a requirement that any originator keeps 10% of any risk if they want to sell to an EU bank. That, admittedly, isn't a very sensible suggestion. The original proposal was just about portfolio credit risk transfer, not syndicated loans, not single name CDS. Rather than frantically making alternative proposals the Commission should stick to the original idea, and ideally try to persuade the Basel Committee to agree to it too. Capping regulatory relief on securitised exposure at 85% is sensible. Bravo Brussels. Now don't stuff it up by panicing when the Banks say they don't like it. They don't have to like it. It just has to be the right thing to do.

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