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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Webster

Banks should be mongrels

Crossbred dogs may not win shows but they are supposed to be more robust than thoroughbreds. It means that a pooch that is a mixture should cost less at the vet. With this in mind I wonder whether regulation leads to deep-seated problems. Regulators seem to be amassing lots of data and this appears to be used to define what the “best of breed” looks like. Armed with this knowledge a set of rules are emerging that mean that in order to conform banks are becoming homogenous. At first sight this is sensible. It is certainly easier to administer. You can compare and contrast firms in order to see who stands out. Outliers then need to be modified in order that they fit in. There is however one big problem. It assumes that we know what the best of breed really looks like. This assumption is of course erroneous. A bank that works in today’s environment won’t necessarily be successful tomorrow. The danger is that far from making banking safer regulation is making it more the same and therefore vulnerable to the risks we don’t understand (and there a lot of these). In order to overcome this “one size fits all” approach regulation must itself change so that banks have greater individual freedom. That’s once the retail business is properly ring fenced. What dog owners then do is up to them. A market full of mongrels may prove a lot healthier.

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