‘Bank stress tests are inadequate’ – author of ASI report “No Stress” writes letter to the Independent

Author of Adam Smith Institute report “No Stress: The flaws of the Bank of England’s stress testing programme” Professor Kevin Dowd has written a letter to the Independent: 


Bank stress tests are inadequate


James Moore’s article (18 June) on “No Stress”, my Adam Smith Institute Report on the Bank of England’s stress tests, dismisses its conclusions without any attempt to grasp its analysis.


Moore claims that the stress tests weren’t perfect, but the best the Bank of England could do; however, the analysis of the report shows that the BoE can, and should, be running safer tests. No one scenario can provide comfort that the system is sound.


Furthermore, the tests are based on an absurdly low safety standard, and if one stress-tests the tests against respectable standards all the banks would fail. They also lack credibility because the Bank can only allow the banking system to “pass”: anything else would imply that its own past policies have failed.


Moore might be satisfied with the results of the tests, but the rest of us should remain sceptical. Stress tests operate like a radar that is worse than useless because it cannot see the main hazards. We wouldn’t dream of sending out a ship or plane reliant on an unreliable radar. We shouldn’t do that with our banking system either.


Professor Kevin Dowd
London SW1

Read the letter here.

ASI report, “No Stress: the flaws in the Bank of England’s stress testing programme”, examines the Bank of England’s stress testing programme and challenges the Bank’s conclusion that the UK banking system has sufficient capital to withstand a new downturn and suggests that the UK banking system is actually very weak.

The report argues that the stress tests are fatally flawed because they use a very low ‘pass’ standard, a 4.5 percent minimum ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets. This minimum is well below those coming through under Basel III. Had the Bank carried out a test using these latter minima, the banking system would have failed the test.

Has Greek government been own worst enemy during negotiations? Sam Bowman argues NO in City AM

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman argues that Greece has been treated unfairly during debt negotiations in the City AM Debate Forum.

Greece has been badly mistreated by the rest of the EU. The structural reforms demanded by the Troika are desirable, though difficult in the current economic climate, but Greece has already cut state spending by 20 per cent and cut state employment by 30 per cent.

Greece has been running a primary surplus since 2013, and most of the €240bn in bailout money lent to the country was intended to service existing debt. Irresponsible borrowers, which Greece undoubtedly was, need irresponsible lenders too. At the onset of the crisis, European banks owned nearly $54bn of Greek government debt, and a Greek default would have damaged many of them. These were bailouts for Europe’s banks, not just for Greece.

The Eurozone’s refusal to restructure Greece’s debt, perhaps indexing it to nominal GDP as Greece’s finance minister has suggested, is therefore highly unreasonable. Greece has been at fault, but so have many other players in this sorry saga.

Read the full article here.