marketoracle.co.uk / By Steve H. Hanke / Dec 18, 2012 – 09:50 AM
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the oracles of money and banking have been beating the drums for “recapitalization” — telling us that, to avoid future crises, banks must be made stronger. To accomplish this, governments across the developed world are compelling banks to raise fresh capital and strengthen their balance sheets. And, if banks can’t raise more capital, they are told to shrink the amount of risk assets (loans) on their books. In any case, we are told that one way or another, banks’ capital-asset ratios must be increased — the higher, the better.
Virtually all the establishment figures in economics and politics have jumped on this bandwagon. In 2010, the world’s central bankers, represented collectively by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) handed down Basel III — a global regulatory framework that, among other things, hikes capital requirements from 4% to at least 7% of a bank’s riskweighted assets.
For some time, I have warned that higher bank capital requirements, when imposed in the middle of an economic slump, are wrong-headed because they put a squeeze on the money supply and stifle economic growth. As we can see in the accompanying table, this is cause for concern, because the quantity of money and nominal national income are closely related.
Not surprisingly, as banks have pared their balance sheets in anticipation of Basel III’s 2013 implementation, broad money growth in most participating economies has stagnated, at best. The result, thus far, has been financial repression — a credit crunch. This has proven to be a deadly cocktail to ingest in the middle of a slump.