SCHWARZMAN AT DAVOS….Via Felix Salmon, Andrew Ross Sorkin is pretty clearly aghast at Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman’s antics at Davos:
In fact, Mr. Schwarzman is already making a splash. At a discussion panel on Wednesday, hopped off his stool during a debate moderated by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, grabbed the microphone, and boldly called for what private equity loves: More leverage!
Mr. Schwarzman argued that banks should be allowed lower capital ratios, freeing money normally laid away against losses for new lending. He also called for the end of accounting rules that forced lower and lower asset valuations. And, oh yes, the government should guarantee securitizations to help the market get moving.
But hold on a second. I’ve heard plenty of sensible people suggest pretty much the exact same things: capital ratios that ease up during recessions and tighten when times are good; an end to (or modification of) mark-to-market accounting rules, which force huge fire-sale asset writedowns in illiquid markets; and government backstopping of bank obligations, which was a big part of the Swedish response to their banking crisis in the 90s.
I’m not saying I agree with any or all of these proposals, but it’s not as if this stuff comes from the gamma quadrant. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Schwarzman (Daniel Gross has a quick rundown here), but this particular proposition doesn’t strike me as being as cringeworthy as it’s being made out to be.