Funny, I Thought It Was a New Kind of Herb…

In the Hutong

One month to go

2039 hrs.

There are a lot of terms people use that they do not really understand, and I am as guilty of that as anyone out there. I didn’t understand “soft power” until I read Joseph Nye’s book. I had no clue about social networking until I actually started doing it.

And even though I deal very rarely with finance, there have been two occasions when I’ve used the phrase “Basel II requirements” in a conversation about Chinese banking when I realized I only understood a single specific piece (the minimum capital requirement) of the global standards by which banks are increasingly judged. I kept smiling, but I broke into a cold sweat.

You know that feeling, right? That feeling like you are walking happily across a frozen lake, and then you wake from your reverie to realize that you are on thin ice, that you have walked the conversation right up to – and sometimes beyond – your real level of knowledge. And you are about to be exposed for the pretentious idiot that you are for having had the conversation in the first place.

Okay, well, maybe you don’t. But I’ve felt it, and I hate it. Once my internal baloney alarm kicks in, there are only two solutions: never, ever, go there again; or set about learning more.

So I went hunting, and I found this juicy little pdf at the Bank for International Settlements website – the full text of Basel II: International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards Revised Framework – Comprehensive Version. At 347 pages of dry text, it was probably more than I needed, but being the finance tyro that I am I kind of get a kick out of reading it. I feel like I’m a fly on the wall at a meeting of central bankers. The wikipedia entry was a little too light on detail anyway.