Titolo

How to improve the Geithner plan

1 commento (espandi tutti)

Why do you want to improve the plan? If you cannot fix the accounts just fudge them!

I read in the G20 communiqué:

"We have provided significant and comprehensive support to our banking systems to provide liquidity, recapitalize financial institutions, and address decisively the problem of impaired assets. We are committed to take all necessary actions to restore the normal flow of credit through the financial system and ensure the soundness of systemically important institutions"

Ok now they call them "impaired assets", but does relaxation of accounting standards address the problem? It does not appear so. Is it a necessary action to restore the normal flow of credit? It does not appear neither necessary nor sufficient.

Then we read "to take action, once recovery is assured, to improve the quality, quantity, and international consistency of capital in the banking system. In future, regulation must prevent excessive leverage and require buffers of resources to be built up in good times;"

Does a change in the accounting standards improve quality, quantity and consistency of capital in the banking system? For sure it does not improve quality whereas it may improve quantity, buying time for the held to maturity assets hoping that they will recover values. About consistency, it appears quite clear that there is none.
I still contend that to the extent that a change in accounting standards increase the information asymmetry in the market for lemons, it will be difficult to find a price of equilibrium for the toxic assets. Moreover I think that the impairment of information content of banks account and the privately held information embedded in toxic assets will paradoxically defeat the objectives of the PPIP. So either banks will not be interested to sell toxic assets anymore or if they want to sell them there will be a further distortion in prices and it will be more likely that they are selling lemons.
I conclude saying that I do not see how the same managers who screwed up the accounts of several banks can be given another tool to reduce transparency and increase risks of those same accounts. It's more than a conflict of interest...It's a pity that we are loosing opportunities to create new "good banks" defending existing ones against taxpayers.