¿Cuál debe ser el tamaño de los bancos?

La discusión sobre el tamaño de los bancos es uno de los temas vinculados con la recuperación financiera desde el año 2007. Desde entonces se viene cuestionando la conveniencia de que ciertas entidades alcancen una dimensión tal que su crisis se convierta en “sistémica” es decir, amenace la estabilidad del conjunto de las entidades que integran un mismo sistema financiero. El tamaño se convertiría en un problema, aunque también se insinúa su conversión en solución alegando que, esa misma circunstancia del tamaño podía hacer que la supervivencia de una entidad quedara fuera de cuestión. “Too Big to fail” o “too big to fall” son expresiones acuñadas en este debate.

Parece razonable considerar que los requerimientos a una entidad de crédito no pueden desconocer ese dato. Los riesgos que afronta una entidad que limita su actividad a un ámbito provincial o regional no son los mismos que acompañan a otra entidad con presencia en varios Estados, en zonas económicas distantes y sometidas a criterios de supervisión variados. Ese tratamiento regulatorio y supervisor se convierte en la vía para intervenir y corregir el tamaño de determinadas entidades. Es lo que centra el debate en Estados Unidos con respecto al desarrollo de la conocida Ley Dodd Frank en este punto.
Un debate que enfrenta a las Asociaciones bancarias de aquel país y a la Reserva Federal y que ha evidenciado la carta remitida por las primeras. En el marco de las relaciones entre la Reserva Federal y las entidades sometidas a su supervisión, las Asociaciones  han hecho pública una carta (¡de 161 páginas!) que contiene un reproche principal: la idea de que un tamaño excesivo puede convertirse en un factor de riesgo para un banco. Tomo de la crónica de The Washington Post de 28 de abril de 2012:
The largest U.S. banks are accusing the Federal Reserve of attempting to misuse its new regulatory powers to shrink financial giants under the misguided belief that “big is bad”.
…….
Lobbying groups representing the big banks are pushing back against a set of proposed rules that the Fed issued in December to more closely scrutinize the firms and rein in their risk-taking after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
In a letter sent Friday, the groups said the Fed is going too far and is proposing a set of policies on credit exposure and capital standards that go against the intent of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law.
The letter was written by the Clearing House Association, the American Bankers Association, the Financial Services Forum, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Comments on the December proposal are due Monday”.
He acudido a la web de la American Bankers  Association, que tiene una muy completa e interesante sección dedicada a lo que cabe enunciar como el desarrollo normativo de la citada Ley Dodd Frank (Dodd Frank Tracker). Allí puede consultarse la carta de 27 de abril de 2012 mencionada, que es una extensa respuesta a las normas diseñadas por la Reserva Federal y sometidas a consulta. Con respecto a la cuestión del “too big is bad”, me limitaré a transcribir el cuerpo de la argumentación, que aparece en las páginas 16 y 17 de la misma:
“D. Numerous aspects of the Proposed Rules, along with regulatory reform measures more broadly, appear premised on the “big is bad” belief that size inherently is a major indicator of and contributor to systemic risk, and assume that (i) “too big to fail” has not been addressed and cannot be solved and (ii) forcing institutions to reduce their size will reduce systemic risk without creating any loss of services or harm to customers or the domestic or international financial systems or economies. In our view, neither the belief nor the assumptions are correct.
Although some academics, legislators and even members of  the Federal Reserve System have called for large banks to be broken up, this was not the decision that Congress made in Dodd‐ Frank.
27 Section 165 calls for enhanced prudential supervision of larger banks rather than their break‐ up. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve appears to suggest that, contrary to Congress’ determination, it has set a course to use Section 165 to achieve indirectly what it was not authorized to address directly – that is, precipitate a reduction in the size of large banks through size‐based regulation.
28 The Preamble asserts that the Proposed Rules “would provide incentives for covered companies to reduce their systemic footprint . . .”
29 Two aspects of the Proposed Rules go directly to this point – (i) the Proposed SCCL Rules’ 10% credit limit for major covered companies and (ii) the G‐SIB Surcharge, as well as many of the indicators in the BCBS’s G‐SIB Surcharge (which the Preamble indicates may be the basis for a surcharge on covered companies or a subset of covered companies) that correlate with, and largely appear to be proxies for, size.
30 We submit that an approach grounded in a “too big” or “big is bad” concept is not only contrary to Congress’ intent but is misguided and detrimental to a sound, strong banking system and a strong economy for at least four reasons.
First, it is important for the American and global economies that there be banks of all sizes, including at least some banks of significant size. The variety allows the banking industry to serve customers from the very smallest firms to the largest, including multinational companies, with convenience that matches the needs of our customers, innovation that all types of banks can provide, and financings to bolster economic growth and job creation by meeting the demands of customers of all sizes.
31 Banks must mirror the economic system they are designed to serve. In the 21st century, companies served by international banks compete in a global economic system, exporting finished products, importing raw materials and components, and establishing substantial operations abroad. Therefore, they need banks that are competitive around the world and are able to meet quickly and efficiently a wide range of financial needs, from treasury services to overnight funding to trade finance to currency hedging. It is unrealistic to believe that these needs can be entirely met by small banks or by hedge funds or other members of the shadow banking system. There are many facets of an institution, not just size, that determine its effectiveness, productivity, risk and contribution to its customers and communities.
Second, the empirical record contradicts the argument that size alone correlates to risk. Between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2012, the FDIC placed into receivership 430 banks having aggregate consolidated assets of approximately $682 billion. Of those receiverships, all but one of the banks had less than $50 billion of total consolidated assets. Likewise, two of the countries with the most concentrated banking systems, Canada and Australia, fared better during the crisis than almost any other country.
Third, although the Associations recognize that in many (but not necessarily all) cases, the failure of a large bank is more likely to result in national systemic risk than the failure of a smaller bank, we submit that this issue should be addressed by an effective and credible resolution regime for large institutions. We believe that such a regime has been created by the orderly liquidation authority of Title II of Dodd‐Frank, which is supplemented by the living will requirements and other Dodd‐Frank provisions.
As mentioned above, the Federal Reserve notes in the Preamble that Dodd‐Frank takes a multi‐prong approach to mitigating the threat to financial stability posed by systemically important financial companies, including the orderly liquidation authority in Title II of Dodd‐Frank.
32 The Proposed Rules’ substantive provisions, however, with their focus on size and restrictions designed to encourage reduction in size, fail to give credibility to Title II.
33 Fourth, the Associations agree that taxpayers should never again be required to bail out a financial institution and that “too big to fail” is an unacceptable policy. This issue is, however, addressed directly by Title II, which provides that stockholders are wiped out, management replaced and creditors held responsible for any losses suffered in the failure of a systemically important institution, and indirectly by several other provisions of Dodd‐Frank and Basel III. In addition, unlike the Bankruptcy Code’s Chapter XI reorganization arrangement, Title II provides no option to a government‐ controlled liquidation. In addition, Dodd‐Frank amended Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act to eliminate the potential for single‐company special financing”.
Madrid, 7 de mayo de 2012

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