Basel III is entirely irrelevant to the economic situation and even to the banks. Through things like minimum capital levels, the Basel II rules provided the illusion of intelligent design in the regulation of banking and finance. In fact, Basel II made the subprime crisis possible and the subsequent bailout inevitable [by enabling off-balance sheet finance and OTC derivatives].Part of the reason for my undisguised contempt for the Basel III process comes from caution regarding the benefits of regulating markets. In the 1930s, the U.S. government took responsibility for the soundness of banks and markets. Since then we’ve had nothing but an accumulation of public sector debt and growing market volatility, begging the question as to whether the Treasury’s legal monopoly on regulating a market filled with fiat paper dollars is really a public good.
The key to the future of finance is now emerging
This week I lovingly disparaged those members of the media who spent much time covering the new and improved bank regulatory scheme known as “Basel III.” As someone who was quizzed by my father about the original 1988 Basel accord, I don’t give a toasted sausage about Basel III and said so recently: