How to rebuild the banking system on a safe foundation and ensure it stays there.
Admati (Finance and Economics/Stanford Graduate School of Business) and Hellwig (Director/Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods), authorities in the fields of financial and capital regulation, aim “to demystify banking and explain the issues to widen the participants in the debate.” They accomplish the first objective by demolishing the arguments made by the representatives of the banking business against various regulatory reforms that have been proposed since the financial crisis of 2008. They show how banks seek to maintain their status as short-term, leveraged borrowers by obfuscating the meaning of words like “capital” and “capital requirements” and insisting, as the former head of Deutsche Bank Josef Ackermann did, that “higher equity requirements…reduces growth and has negative effects for all.” Relying on equity as opposed to leverage, write the authors, was a well-established banking practice in the past and does not affect economic growth. They show that banks can build equity by re-investing profit rather than distributing gains to shareholders. As for the promised explanation of “the issues,” they elucidate the subsidy that tax payers provide to banks directly, through deposit insurance, and indirectly, through the assumption of forthcoming bailouts. They also clarify the distinction between liquidity crises and solvency crises and assess the risk levels still tolerated and remaining within the financial system. They insist that “concerns about hidden insolvencies have still not been addressed.”
An important book for readers interested in what has been done, and what remains to be done, when it comes to safeguarding financial institutions.