This week international central bankers are forging a new set of rules for banks that would move capital requirements from 4 percent currently to 7 percent (of outstanding loans). This absurd new policy comes just as the world economy is teetering on the brink, especially in the US and Western Europe, where the new Basel rules will have the most impact.
Why is it that no one wants the world economy to have credit? By every measure bank lending has shrunk, not only in the US but throughout Europe? How is a recovery supposed to take place when every "reform" measures reduces the available amount of credit?
The time to reduce or slow credit availability is during a boom, not during a recession. The Basel rules will only make things worse and could plant the seeds of a lengthy US-Western Europe slowdown in economic activity. Combined with the wrong-headed policies of the Obama Administration -- credit card reform, debit card reform, consumer protections in the FinReg bill -- the net effect of all of this is to dramatically reduce the available credit necessary to fuel a recovery.
Policy makers and politicians should take a holiday. The more they do, the harder it is for free markets to produce an economic recovery.
Maybe, just maybe, more regulation and more government is not the answer.