A résumé of the summit in the conjunctive
The G20 summit in Pittsburgh has ended. A basic consensus has been found regarding management salaries, strengthening of the IMF and increasing the capital buffers of banks. Will this package of measures be enough to fulfil the promise of the G20 to avoid future crises? To ask that in another way: If the package had been wrapped up five years ago, would it have been able to prevent the real estate crisis of 2007/2008?
The half hearted effort to limit management pay is a symbolic if not indeed a populist act. Would the bankers at lower pay levels really have distributed fewer housing credits?
The strengthening of the IMF seems cynical. This was the institution that had demanded the liberalisation of capital markets. If the budget of the IMF had been tripled five years ago, 5% of the voting right given to China and an explanation given to it that the freedom of capital markets was not quite that easy a matter, would that have prevented the crisis?
Capital increases would force banks to create buffers to be able to remain solvent even during loss making years. If the capital buffers had been increased by two percent before the crisis would that really have been able to prevent the worst happening?
In short would today's G20 reforms have prevented:
- US banks from systematically providing excessive credit to non-creditworthy households?
- Bankers from knowingly taking excessive risks knowing that they were „too big to fail“?
- Hedge funds with opaque financial instruments from betting on rising real estate prices with the aid of uncontrolled credit accumulation?
- Private rating agencies from systematically underestimating the risks associated with these investments, not least because they were being paid by those they were evaluating, and
- European banks from greedily accumulating these fraudulent papers?
The next crisis will provide us with the answers