Wall Street Makes Another Push To Stay Too Big To Fail
Wall Street lobbyists are back on the warpath. The new battle is over regulators’ plans to try and end Too Big To Fail – a dynamic where some financial institutions are so large that their failure allegedly threatens the entire financial system, which requires them to be bailed out by the government.
The Federal Reserve has proposed a new rule on total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC) to allow banks to suffer stress and failure without forcing taxpayers to cover the losses.
The rule requires financial institutions identified as global systemically important banks (GSIBs) – aka Too Big To Fail banks – to “hold sufficient amounts of long-term debt, which can be converted to equity during resolution,” making it easier for private money to enter the bankruptcy process.
Not surprisingly, Wall Street is none-too-thrilled with creating living wills and the notion of taking less risk, which would mean making less profit. Lobbyists representing JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others, sent letters to the Fed during the comment period for the TLAC rule and are planning a major effort to rollback and dilute the new regulation.
The general strategy for Wall Street lobbyists is to publicly claim to be in favor of the idea of TLAC, only to concern-troll the new TLAC rule as too complicated and threatening to the availability of credit. Their less-public strategy is likely trying to get friendly members of Congress to help them pressure the Fed into weakening the rule.
The underlying truth is there is a risk/reward dynamic to Wall Street: typically, the more risk banksters take, the higher their rewards and compensation can be. Rules that make Wall Street less risky make it less profitable and lucrative for many traders. In other words, a safer financial system is better for taxpayers and the real economy, but not for Wall Street.
In that vein, Wall Street is also fighting other parts of the Fed’s plan to prevent future bailouts, such as stress tests and higher capital requirements. They want to keep the status quo, where America socializes Wall Street’s risk while privatizing Wall Street’s profits.