Anat Admati – The debate is raging about banks and their size, financial regulation, and the international capital standards known as "Basel". Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, in his New York Times magazine profile, expresses admiration for the Basel committee and says,

“… they are asking the questions that, in theory, bankers ask of themselves: how much capital do banks need to withstand the inevitable downturn, and what is an acceptable level of risk?”

There is one problem, however. Basel may have asked the right question, but it did not come up with the right answers, mainly because it allows banks to remain dangerously leveraged, setting equity requirements way too low. This fact is not understood because the debate on capital regulation has been mired with a cloud of confusion, and filled with un-substantiated assertions by bankers and others. As a result, the issues appear much more mysterious and complicated than they actually are.

After a massive and incredibly costly financial crisis, we seem to have financial system that is a more consolidated, more powerful, more profitable and, yes, as fragile and dangerous as we had before the crisis. How did this happen and what can we do?

Here are some questions on which the confusion is staggering.


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December 5th, 2010

Staff Reporter EducationNews.org

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