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Originate to distribute, the business model oft quoted as one of the primary causes of the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, and by extension, the rest of the financial crisis, is back. But this time it’s different, apparently, or at least backwards.
The risk weights for securitization have been halved, again, in the latest version of Solvency II. Naturally the market is pleased to be further out of the regulatory dog house, but the way risk weights (and therefore careers, businesses and economies) can be slashed at the stroke of a pen ought to give pause for thought.
The European Banking Authority’s effort to improve transparency on balance sheet encumbrance has come to nothing. The draft guideline, which will be finalised by June, is practically useless because it doesn’t include emergency central bank liquidity, which is the largest and most important source of encumbrance. But that’s probably just as well, for if this disclosure became public knowledge, it would create just the sort of negative feedback loop that brought down the UK’s Northern Rock.
When Mario Draghi said — for the second time— that the ECB would consider buying ABS to boost Europe’s economic prospects, everyone took note. Everyone, it seems, except Europe’s regulators, who have shown a reluctance to change their anti-securitization tack. It is time for them to swallow some pride and roll back the harshest securitization regulation — before it is too late.