De grootste risico’s waren makkelijk te zien en haast niemand zag ze

Lezing Dit bericht is ouder dan drie jaar. De inhoud is daarom mogelijk niet meer actueel.

Speech van Hans Hoogervorst De complexiteit van de financiële wereld zal bijgedragen hebben aan het ontstaan van de kredietcrisis, maar de grootste risico’s waren makkelijk te zien en haast niemand zag ze. De basis oorzaak van de crisis was de te grote schuldenlast van de gehele economie en de onderkapitalisering van de financiële sector in het bijzonder. Dat zei AFM-voorzitter Hans Hoogervorst donderdag in een lezing tijdens een conferentie van DFK Internationaal (accountants en consultants) over de rol van de account tijdens de kredietcrisis in Amsterdam.

In many areas of the world, the combined levels of indebtedness of consumers, companies and the state had never before been so high. Relative to gross domestic product the level of debt about tripled as compared to the level we had in the eighties. There was concern about this, but not nearly enough. Looking back, it is clear that the whole economy had become a huge pyramid of debt, that at some point inevitably had to come tumbling down.

Even more surprisingly, banks were allowed to build up debt levels that were 25, 30 or even more times their tangible common equity. What were we thinking? Was no one aware that a mere 2 or 3% decline of the asset value of banks would be enough to wipe out their entire equity? 

This is a question that can be asked to supervisors, but also to preparers and auditors. Shouldn’t they have blown a whistle when they saw financial institutions becoming overly leveraged? Why didn’t they raise going concern flags? I know this is extremely tricky in a field where any red flag can lead to a bank run. It also needs to be said that one cannot expect auditors to second-guess the markets when 99% of trained economists were unaware of the fact that the financial markets were built upon quick sand. Still, auditors might have seen more if they had concentrated more on the big picture and less on technical detail. Also, it is highly recommendable that auditors and prudential regulators intensify their communication in the future. If auditors cannot raise their concerns in public, they should be able to do so with the regulators. 

U kunt de volledige speech (in het Engels) hiernaast downloaden.

De AFM maakt zich sterk voor eerlijke en transparante financiële markten.

Als onafhankelijke gedragstoezichthouder dragen wij bij aan duurzaam financieel welzijn in Nederland.

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