Economics explained with plain-speaking Newsnight man Paul Mason

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Congratulations to BBC2’s Newsnight, which has picked up a Plain English Award for best national TV programme. The judges consider ‘how well entrants have used plain English, and how successfully and passionately they have fought gobbledygook”.

One wonders if the judges have ever checked out economics editor Paul Mason’s blog. This bit, for example, discussing the concept of concept of capital adequacy: ‘The original Basel II treaty set a hard capital ratio at 4%: the total value of the banks shares, known as equity, had to be at least 4% of the size of their loan book. This is known as a Tier I Ratio. Many banks were able to ‘game’ the regulations by shoving loans off their balance sheet into arm’s length companies, so they could hold onto less capital.

‘Now they cannot, that 4% limit becomes important. But it’s no longer 4%. In response to the crisis, national regulators have imposed higher capital ratios.”

Goodness knows what the losing entries were like.

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