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The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It [Format Kindle]

Anat Admati , Martin Hellwig
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Présentation de l'éditeur

The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers' New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid. Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of its benefits, and at essentially no cost to society. They seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms.

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4.0 étoiles sur 5
4.0 étoiles sur 5
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Bankers' motivation leads to economic crises 16 juin 2013
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The two authors "prove" that one of main causes of economic crises is the motivation of the bankers. It is not their intention. They are "blind" to the disconnect between their actions and their intentions leading to regular crisis with high levels of unemployment and large-scale reduction of prosperity.

The reason why this is so is very simple once you understand it. You have to read the book carefully because banking lobbyists make an enormous effort to complicate and confuse the issues. The authors explain in minute detail how they have arrived at their conclusions. One author is an American professor from Stanford University and the other the German director of a Max Planck Institute. Both are world level experts on this issue.

The simple answer is that Bankers try to keep the shareholder equity (cash paid by investors when the company sold shares and retained earnings, profits that were not paid out as dividends) as low as they can by preventing a regulation that would impose a thirty percent ratio between equity and total assets (the "capital ratio"). You need to understand what exactly are "real" assets and "real" equity, which is different in this book from the way bankers refer to these words. Understanding this difference is essential for understanding the message of this book.

Why are bankers motivated to minimize shareholder equity? They aim to maximize Return on Equity (ROE). This is the ratio between profit and equity. It is obvious that with the same profit and a lower equity the ROE increases. According to the authors, the total income of the senior bankers is in most banks based, to a large extent, on this ROE.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Good 20 octobre 2014
Great book but à bit expensive. Really clear If you are not familiar with the finance world. The ideas are well explained
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Livre pour étudiant 7 décembre 2013
Par Besson
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Mon fils en avait besoin pour ces études il l'a commandé sur votre site ,c'est pratique et il est content de l'avoir eu
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  79 commentaires
64 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Compelling approach to ending too big to fail, improve financial stability 16 février 2013
Par Contrarian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Excellent book written for a general audience explaining why big, highly leveraged banks are bad for the economy. Then they assert that requiring banks to raise more capital by issuing stock and less through borrowing will be extremely beneficial for the financial system.

This seems too simple to be true and the most helpful negative review has called it "overly simple". I strongly disagree. I think it is just simple enough. Simple is good. Complicated rules, such as the Volcker Rule, will be gamed, evaded and lobbied to irrelevance. The presentation in the book is somewhat oversimplified but there are lots of footnotes that go into greater depth and elaborate the point plus references that support them.

Why hasn't such simple logic been followed already? The authors describe how bankers benefit from the current system of extremely high leverage and from the implicit promise of taxpayer bailouts. They also argue that their proposal -- which they have been making academically and to regulators and politicians for a few years -- has been opposed by entrenched banking interest. Also, the general public doesn't understand these issues or of banking in general. They argue that this in part because bankers promote confusion. This book is written to combat that. "We want to encourage people to form and to trust their opinions, to ask questions, to express doubts, and to challenge the flawed arguments that pervade the policy debate. If we are to have a healthier financial system, more people must understand the issues and influence policy."

I think they do a great job of explaining the problem in very clear and understandable terms to people with no prior knowledge without oversimplifying. For readers who want to delve more deeply, they have excellent footnotes and references. I am involved in the field and find the references and excellent compendium of sources, some of which I already knew but some which I am very glad they have pointed me to.

Their central premise is that a simple measure -- requiring banks to raise more funds as equity capital -- issuing stock instead of borrowing -- would greatly improve the stability of the banking system. They also address the "bugbear" that doing so would reduce economic growth. Essentially, we can have our cake and eat it too.

In their words "if banks have much more equity, the financial system will be safer, healthier, and less distorted. From the society's perspective, the benefits are large and the costs are hsrd to find: there are virtually no tradeoffs."

The message is quite strong and they seem quite alarmed about the current state of affairs "Today's banking system, even with the proposed reforms, is as dangerous and fragile as the system that brought us the recent financial crisis." But their writing is quite dry and matter-of-fact. I think they do a wonderful job of explaining the essence of banking and the problems leverage creates to people without a lot of financial knowledge.

I found their message to be quite persuasive and compelling.

Addendum: Many of claims in negative reviews are refuted by the authors in this (fairly short) document.
30 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Focusing the Debate on What Matters 27 février 2013
Par Banking & Finance - Publié sur Amazon.com
Financial regulation generally and bank regulation specifically can seem maddeningly complex. There is a specialized vocabulary. The economic concepts can seem far removed from the decision-making experiences of everyday people. The pace of innovation can be staggering. And the very variety of private institutions and public regulators--the proverbial alphabet soup of Washington in the form of the OCC, FDIC, SEC, CFTC, CFPB, the Federal Reserve, and others--can leave questions of what must be done to whom and by whom ostensibly unresolvable.

In the face of such complexity, the banks have a relatively simple solution: Trust Us. We are the experts. It is our business, and our self-interest, to master this complexity in such a way that maximizes both private and social benefits. And, after Dodd-Frank and Basel III, we can now promise that we will keep our failures in house and not impose the dramatic costs of financial crisis on you, the general public, again.

Admati and Hellwig, with lucid prose and a comprehensible agenda, slice through the opacity to present a clear challenge: the problems banks and, by extension, the general public face are not as complicated as they seem, and the "Trust Us" solution is naive and dangerous. The authors engage a number of issues central to the crisis in bank regulation--the politics, the international context, shadow banking, regulatory failure, and bank governance. And while no single policy proposal can resolve every problem that might arise in the financial sector forever, there are threshold issues that must be addressed first. In Admati and Hellwig's able diagnosis and prognosis, a major cause of the severity of the financial crisis and the path to sustainable growth and sound banking are simple: excessive debt is the problem; increased equity is the solution.

It's hard to overstate the contribution that Admati and Hellwig have made in this book. Depending on your perspective, the authors have done one of two things to the narratives banks use to justify their extraordinary reliance on debt. The authors have either debunked these narratives so thoroughly and irrefutably that the narratives are exposed as having no basis whatsoever in theory or practice. Or they have decisively shifted the burden to the banks and their representatives in the private and public sector to explain what Admati & Hellwig have missed. The early signs point toward the first conclusion: the few challenges to the book so far only repeat the same claims that Admati & Hellwig have so thoroughly debunked.

This is a book for all political stripes, backgrounds, and prior assumptions about the way banks and the financial system writ large operate. It will set the tone for every serious conversation about bank capital structures the world over.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Capital is the Key! 4 mars 2013
Par Steve Patrick - Publié sur Amazon.com
Great description of how the banking business works and, in times of crisis, doesn't work. The authors' prescription is deceptively simple: require more capital. They also note that regulation is too focused on a bank's assets (its loans) rather than its liabilities.

The authors do a great job of covering the topics they choose to address. The book's primary shortcoming is that it ignores a few critical issues. For example, financial theory holds that a firm's capital structure does not impact its weighted average cost of capital. Hence, shifting banks leverage from 97% debt and 3% equity to something more reasonable (80:20?) would not make loans to main street more expensive. That is true in a world without taxes. Unfortunately, banks compete in a world where they pay taxes but "shadow banks" do not. Higher capital ratios mean higher taxes and, hence, a greater incentive to move bank-like activities into things like money market mutual funds that are not taxed.

A simple solution like "more capital" can only work on a level playing field where all asset managers are treated equally.
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Banking Industry Still in Need of Tighter Regulations to Make It More Self-Sustainable 10 mars 2013
Par Serge J. Van Steenkiste - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig clearly demonstrate that the lack of decisive reforms in the banking industry in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-2009 will end up badly again for the U.S. and world economy.

Ms. Admati and Mr. Hellwig bluntly challenge the invalid reasons behind which bankers, politicians, and regulators hidden themselves to justify the absence of a more thorough reform of this essential industry. The authors rightly focus the core of their argumentation on the necessity to increase bank equity (called capital in the banking industry) to 20 percent to 30 percent of banks' total assets from the 3 percent lower limit for equity as a fraction of total assets as permitted in the recent Basel III agreement on capital regulation.

This significant increase in bank equity has several benefits:
1) Better capitalized banks will have a lower probability of falling into financial distress or becoming insolvent as a result of recognizing losses immediately on their non-performing loans.
2) Less leveraged banks will be more inclined not to take excessive risks in lending and not to stop lending during a sharp economic downturn.
3) Better bank capitalization will reduce the sizes and distortive effects of guarantees and subsidies that make it possible to allow debt to fund up to 97 percent of bank assets.
4) Higher equity requirements could push the largest banks to break up without being forced to do so by law or regulation under the pressure of their shareholders asking for compensation reflective of the risks assumed.

Ms. Admati and Mr. Hellwig recommend that banks reduce the dividends that they pay to their shareholders and / or raise fresh capital in the capital markets to fund this sharp increase in bank equity. Furthermore, banks can temporarily reduce the bonuses granted to their staff to help fund this increase in bank equity. In addition, the authors advocate for a change in the tax treatment of interest paid on debt to make capital funding through equity more attractive than it currently is.

The authors convincingly refute the claim that sharply increasing bank equity will undermine economic growth. Higher financial stability prior to 2007 would not have given rise to the sharp decline in output in 2009 and the resulting loss of output valued in the trillions of dollars. Furthermore, a better capitalized banking industry would not have resulted in the anemic economic recovery that the U.S. has had to endure since 2009.

In summary, Ms. Admati and Mr. Hellwig systematically reduce to rubble the convenient rationalizations that bankers, politicians, and regulators use to justify the unfinished business of reforming the banking industry thoroughly.
101 internautes sur 139 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 full of overly simple thinking 25 avril 2013
Par Mark bennett - Publié sur Amazon.com
The authors agenda is rather simple: Banks are bad and the solution to all the problems of banking is simply to tighten leverage ratios in banking in a drastic way. The strength of the book is that its authors are making a rather obvious argument. The weakness of the book is the tendency for the authors to dismiss the consequences of their simple suggestions and a certain ignorance of the financial ecosystem beyond the banks.

Decreasing leverage in the banking system decreases risk, but it will also ultimately lead to a contraction of credit. Rather than accepting that basic law of nature, the authors sort of present the idea that credit can remain the same by having the banks cut costs and issue more equity. The obvious problem that if banks become a low-margin business and don't pay dividends, their equity will be utterly unattractive. There is simply not an unlimited demand for bank equity. If ratios are raised, lending decreases, the margins in the business decrease, equity decreases in value which puts further downward pressure on credit availablity. As credit contracts, asset values begin to deflate which puts downward pressure on growth. The books arguments in this area are overly simplisitic.

These problems can be overcome. Historically they have been overcome by giving banks implicit profit margins or quasi-monopoly positions in certain businesses. By giving banks anti-competitive advantages and built-in profit margins, their equity becomes more attractive and there is more credit without risk. The question then becomes which is worse: Bailouts for banks that fail or a continuous public subsidies for the banks to ensure enough credit for the economy. There is no easy answer to that question. But that is the question that has been out there since at least the Great Depression.

They don't quite understand the risk culture in banking. The only thing traders care about is their own financial ruin or going to prison. If the situation is (as it is today) that there are no personal consequences and little chance of jail, leverage ratios will no deter these people in the least. In the case of MF global, over a billion could go missing from customer accounts with no legal consequences to much of anyone. If the system is such that nobody can be held accountable at all when money disappears from customer accounts at a regulated institution, what good are leverage ratios. What good are leverage ratios when junk bonds can get AAA ratings from the credit agencies. The point being that its not as simply as just chaging ratios.

I'm also not sure how well the authors understand just how complex share "equity" in banking is today and how the big banks have often blurred the line between debt and equity in raising money in really strange ways.

Elaborate schemes are presented for how to implement the higher captial ratios. But the most obvious way is the way the government always does it: Through the Federal Reserve. "Safe" ordinary savers are robbed by federal reserve policy that encourages big spreads between savings rates and loan rates which build reserves in the banks. If the policy of the authors were actually implemented, that is inevitably how it would be done. Not that anyone would be told of course.

One thing I find irritating in the book is that the authors constant attempts to make bank finances equal to personal finances. While the authors make that argument in this context, they would likely utterly reject attempts to compare (for example) government financial decisions to household decisions. There is a tendency to want to have it both ways: To use the "household" finances argument in some instances but to utterly reject it as illogical in others.

They also on occasion make incredibly ignorant statements. One example: "If capital is expensive, as bankers suggest, and borrowing is cheap, why doesn't this also apply to other corporations?"

Are the authors really so uninformed about economics that they are unaware of the spike in corporate borrowing since 2008? Most recently, only a couple weeks ago the IMF issued a warning about excessive corporate borrowing in the US. Across the board in the US, borrowing in almost all business of a certain size is less expensive than equity. To answer the author's question. It DOES apply to other corporations.

They also confuse the cost of subsidies (how many cash dollars the government gives someone) with the value of subsidies (how much benefit does the bank get from the subsidies). But people always value government subsidies in terms of what the government is spending in real cash. Its as if the cost of college aid would be measured by the average lifetime difference in total wages earned rather than the amount of money the government actually spent.

They then use the confusion over "subsidies" to claim that a reduction in the value of subsidies is directly equal to taxpayer savings. But the problem is that if the government spends $1 to give the banks a benefit worth $100 to the bank, the taxpayer can't ever get more than that $1 back. The taxpayers can't get $100 back because $100 was never spent.

I think the book is also neglectful of the growing role of non-bank institutions in finance. Since 2008, "risk" has been moving away from the big banks into entities that are far less transparent and far less regulated. Hedge funds, private equity, dark pools and derivative-based ETFs sold to retail investors who don't really understand what they are buying. The point being that any new regulations have to be implemented systemwide. Contrary to the authors statements, this is not a line of reasoning to let the banks out of being regulated. Its a statement that patchwork regulation of the financial system will always lead to a shell game where institutions change identity or move risk to avoid regulation.

From my own point if view, I agree that the banks need to be less leveraged but not to the extent to which the authors argue. They are are far too dismissive of the legitimate consequences of reducing leverage to that extent.

Post Script

In June 2013, the authors responded to many of their critics in a document.

The responses were very disappointing. Rather than enaging their critics, the authors simply repeated the dismissive tone of the book. They are correct. Everyone else is wrong. Their opinions are science. Any contrary opinion is labeled "flawed"/"wrong"/"misleading" thinking. Every response is titled "what is wrong with this claim". The tone is insulting, childish and unworthy of people who wish to be treated seriously.

The case made is often not very convincing:

Claim 8) According to the authors, a company with a low rate of return can increase its ROE by issuing more equity. But that is not true in the real world. Watering down common stock does not make common stock more attractive. The fallacy appears to be that people will migrate to stocks with no rate of return due a low risk of a bankruptcy. The problem is that people looking for investments with that profile will tend to end up in either bonds or CDs. If a CD pays a higher rate of raturn and (because of the government) hold no risk, why invest in common bank stock?

Claim 10) They claim that increased equity requirements will actually encourage more lending. Again, they deny basic "physics". If banking leverage contracts, there is less credit in the market. There is not an unlimited demand for bank equity that will allow an arbitrary amount of credit to be created. The authors confuse a long-term decrease in the total amount of available credit with a "credit crunch". They are not the same thing.

Claim 9) Again, the fallacy is that an unlimited amount of credit can be created through giving out more bank equity. They offer really strange ideas. A bank cannot easily build equity by "retaining earnings" because to do so lessens the value of equity to investors. If a dividend is eliminated, the stock price will fall resulting in less equity.

Claim 7) According to the authors, even if debt is cheaper the equity, banks should be forced to raise equity. They state the determing factor is the "cost to society" rather than the cost to the bank. But there is a cost to society either way. If tfhere is less credit available at higher rates of interest, that is a "cost to society" as well. The flaw is that there are multiple costs to society involved rather than the easy cost-free choice the authors suggest.

Claim 12) The authors say that if a bank cannot sell enough equity at an appropriate price to meet their capital standards, then that bank is by definition "insolvent" or bankrupt.

This falls in the catagory of easy answers to difficult questions. The economy requires both a banking system and enough credit to work. We cannot simply adopt a policy that says that most banks should go away or not exist or go out of business because they cannot meet the arbitrary equity standards established by the authors.

To be attractive to investors, equity has to have a return (the authors want dividends elimiated) and/or growth in the business (the de-leveraging will mean negative growth). The authors offer a plan that cannot work and in response to that being pointed out, they can offer little more than to say that the "insolvent" banking system should be shut down if their plan doesn't work.

This is not a new economic question. The answer to it in the past has been government subsidies and monopoly status that created enough credit and stability in the banks. I dont know that subsidies are a good answer. But if the authors want their plan to be taken seriously, the need to engage with the question.

Claim 13)

The authors respond to the claim that increasing reserve requirements will contract credit and lower economic growth.

The authors respond with an argument that since growth contracted greatly in the last quarter of 2008, this doesn't matter. They confuse negative growth in the worst part of a crisis/recession with the perpetual lower rate of growth their proposals would cause. They also again fall back on the idea that everyone is either with them or a supporter of the status quo in 2007. They continue to be dismissive of any suggestion that their ideas have a price associated with them. That they are not a "free lunch". But a perpetual contraction of credit has real consequences.

21) Tightening the rules will lead to a migration to unregulated shadow banking institutions.

The obvious thing for the authors to say is that we need uniform financial regulation of all institutions. They do not say that. They (again) offer the false choice between carrying out their plans for banks or doing nothing. They, for whatever reason, avoid the question.

22) The authors apparently reject the simple notion that banking regulations need to be harmonized internationally to avoid migrations from one regulatory scheme to another

The authors take a simple question and re-work it as suggesting that banking regulations should be determined by least restrictive regulations internationally. But that was not what was said. It is not a matter of adopting the most permissive standard globally. It is a matter of accepting the need for coodinated global standards. They twist the question to imply a race to the bottom. But the point made is actually that finance is global and its regulation has to be globally coordinated at some level.

11) The authors again want the tax code changed. But rather than just saying they want it changed, they frame their arguments in terms of "subsidies". But their own argument is defeated because they favor deposit insurance which is far more of a direct subsidy than anything in the tax code. They want to attack "subsidies" but arbitrarly be in favor of subsidies they like.

Other notes) The authors continue to reject the idea that banks are different than other businesses and their arguments remain rather unconvincing.
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