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商业 - 金融

大型银行何时才能长大?

Eleanor Bloxham 2011年10月20日

如果大型银行将来不想招致监管部门采取行动,最好一开始就向监管部门证明,它们根本就不需要监管部门的关注。

    可以肯定的是,大型银行绝不会束手就擒,毫不抗争地接受新的监管规定。

    几周前,有报道称,摩根大通(JPMorgan)首席执行官杰米•戴蒙)在与加拿大银行(Bank of Canada)的一位行长的见面会上情绪非常激动,以至于高盛(Goldman Sachs)首席执行官劳埃德•布兰克费恩觉得有必要在小组会议后向出席会见的官员发送一份电子邮件致歉。(戴蒙后来承认他在表述自己的观点时有些过激)。

    大型银行的高管们或许以为向监管部门施压,就能阻止针对大型银行的新资本金规定出台——但这种做法这次可能不会奏效了。

    原因或许是因为忧心忡忡的并不只是监管部门。公众舆论同样不会放过这些大型银行。业界很多人(包括其他行业的高管们)都担心如果放任不管,依赖美联储(Fed)窗口指导和救助的大银行可能会无法避免金融危机的再次爆发。上周六,二十国集团(G20)的财长们对一项针对大银行的附加资本金提议表达了支持,该提议要求大型银行在执行适用于所有国际银行的资本金要求之外,还需计提附加资本金。

    银行业高管们的有些说法还不失公允【例如,花旗集团(Citigroup)首席执行官潘伟迪称新的资本金提议是一把钝刀】,但其他言论反而只能更加凸显加强银行业监管的必要性。

    例如,潘伟迪称,新的资本金要求会导致银行体系中无监管领域的泛滥。但如果银行家们负责任的话,他们应该指出具体是哪些领域可能会出现问题,从而帮助监管机构堵塞漏洞,《大西洋》月刊(The Atlantic)的丹尼尔•英迪维格里奥称监管部门很容易做到这一点。

    戴蒙在驳斥新规时称,要满足超大型企业的需求,必须依靠大型银行:意即银行必须具备一定规模要。如果是这样,银行家们应向超大型企业收取额外费用,因为这些企业享受了大型银行的规模效应带来的好处,但这种规模却给其他客户和利益相关者带来了更多风险。

    虽然关于特定资产类别的资本金构成有些建议可能是合理的,但这些问题自1988年订立首份《巴塞尔协议》以来就一直存在。如果对他们有利,银行家们对这些问题的模糊性毫无意见。过去二十年里,太多银行家们并没有强化自身的风险管理,而是将低标准的监管资本金条例作为衡量风险的尺度。监管体制最终总是存在妥协的——银行家们对这一点心知肚明。

    不过,提议对风险高度集中的大型金融机构实施附加资本金和新的联邦存款保险公司(FDIC)费用评估却是另一回事。它们是对基于市场之经济价值的基本认可。

    凭借超大规模赢得超大客户(其他中小型银行无法染指这个领域)的这些大银行一旦倒闭,也会给金融系统带来很大风险。大型银行业务涉猎广泛,情况复杂,格外需要监管部门的关注。大型银行吸引了监管部门过多的注意力,金融体系中的其他薄弱环节就容易遭到忽视,但体系中的每个人最终都要为此付出代价。因此,大银行应支付一定的经济费用,为其自身考虑也不能规模过大,并缩减需要很多监管力量的经营活动。

    这是对纳税人将要承担之清理成本的经济补偿,不管这些金融机构是否获准倒闭。从这个意义上说,“大到不能倒”并不是问题。

    需要大型银行提供服务的大客户们应该为他们享受的特权付出代价。这纯粹是个经济学问题。没错,银行家们也许需要重新考虑商业模式,但这是一件好事。

    金融危机后大型银行们并未像人们期待的那样进行大量实质性改革。没收抵押房产潮仍未减退,说明大型银行不到万不得已不会采取行动。另一个例证则是银行业只是一味坐等,直到被迫制定“生前遗嘱”(living wills)。

    如果银行早就自觉定好生前遗嘱,尽可能保证遗嘱内容公开透明,市场本来有望更平稳一些,对银行业也的信赖感也会更强一点。第三个例证是银行业并没有认真对待金融危机所揭示的的薪酬和风险问题。

    大型银行应该成为模范公民,远离赌博式交易,而不是反对新的监管条例。然后,它们才有可能与监管部门进行理性的对话。如果大型银行将来不想招致监管部门采取行动,最好一开始就向监管部门证明,它们根本就不需要监管部门的关注。

    Eleanor Bloxham是董事会顾问公司The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com)的首席执行官。

    Make no mistake, big banks will not be submitting to new regulations without a fight.

    A few weeks ago, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon reportedly got so worked up during an exchange with a governor from the Bank of Canada that Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein felt the need to send an email apology to the regulator after the group meeting. (Dimon later acknowledged the intensity with which he expressed his views).

    Bankers at the largest institutions may think bullying regulators will stop new capital requirements for the largest institutions -- but that tactic just may not work this time.

    Perhaps that's because regulators aren't alone in their concerns. Public opinion is not in favor of letting the largest banks off the hook. Many in the business community (including executives in other industries) are skeptical that, if left to their own devices, the largest banks that relied on the Fed window and bailouts will be able to avoid a repeat of the financial meltdown. And on Saturday, finance ministers from the G20 offered their support for a requirement that big banks be subject to an additional capital surcharge, on top of the capital requirements all international banks will be required to follow.

    While some of the arguments bank executives are making are fair (for example, Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit called new capital proposals a blunt instrument), other statements just reinforce the need for additional bank oversight.

    For example, Pandit says new capital requirements would simply encourage unregulated parts of the system to flourish. But if bankers behaved responsibly, they'd disclose where those issues would come from and help regulators close the gaps, something Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic says regulators could easily do.

    In arguing against new rules, Dimon says large banks are necessary to support the needs of the very largest corporations: scale is essential. If this is true, bankers should be charging the very largest corporations for the luxury that their scale offers and for the increased risk it poses to other customers and stakeholders.

    While it is possible to make rational arguments over the basis of capital for particular asset classes, those issues have existed since the first accord in 1988. Bankers had no problems with inexactitude when it moved in their favor. Rather than step up their own risk management over the past two decades, too many bankers used weak regulatory capital guidelines as the way to measure risk. Regulatory regimes always involve compromise -- and the bankers know this.

    The proposed capital surcharge and new FDIC fee assessments on the largest institutions with high risk concentrations, however, are a different matter. They are simple recognition of the market-based economics that exist for regulators and taxpayers.

    By way of their scale, the same big banks that have access to the largest customers (unavailable to other, smaller banks) are also the banks that pose the greatest risk to the financial system if they fail. Because of their scope and sophistication, they demand extraordinary attention from regulators. By requiring so much attention from regulators, other weaknesses in the financial system go unaddressed, a cost everyone in the system pays for eventually. For these reasons, big banks should incur certain economic charges to discourage size for its own sake and activities that continue to require so many regulatory enforcers on the beat.

    The requirements are economic recognition of the cleanup taxpayers will incur whether or not these institutions are allowed to fail. In this sense, too big to fail doesn't matter.

    Large bank customers who make such scale necessary should pay for the privilege. It's simple economics. Yes, bankers may need to rethink their business models, but this is a good thing.

    Post crisis, the largest banks have done less than one would hope to demonstrate meaningful change. The foreclosure issues that continue unabated are an example of the larger banks' failure to address issues unless they are forced to do so. The fact that banks are just waiting around until they are required to develop living wills is another example.

    Instead of waiting to be told, banks could have promoted calmer markets and greater trust by producing robust living wills on their own and providing transparency to their contents as much as feasible. A third example is the failure to take seriously the compensation and risk issues demonstrated by the crisis.

    Instead of railing at the new rules, the largest banks should become model citizens and step away from casino-like trading. Then, it might be possible for them to have a rational conversation with regulators. If the largest banks want no action from regulators in the future, the best place to start is by showing regulators that they don't require their attention at all.

    Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com), a board advisory firm.

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