Congress might have just set a record for shortness of memory: Just 10 years after a crisis that nearly brought down the global financial system, it’s loosening the safeguards designed to prevent a repeat. Now it’s up to regulators — specifically the Federal Reserve — to ensure that the backsliding doesn’t go too far.
Prodded by President Donald Trump to “do a big number” on the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform, the House and Senate have agreed on a bill, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. It’s not a major rollback, but it does take aim at a crucial guarantor of financial resilience: the equity capital that allows banks to absorb losses.
The bill eases capital requirements for “custodial” institutions such as State Street and Bank of New York Mellon. These are among the most systemically important because they facilitate other banks’ transactions. What’s more, they do this by complicating a key measure of capital, known as the leverage ratio, which is meant to be a simple supplement to more easily manipulated regulatory metrics.
The bill also frees regional banks with less than $250 billion in assets from company-run stress tests and from special Fed supervision. That threshold is too high: Many of those banks are large, and institutions in this category required billions of dollars in taxpayer support to get through the last crisis.
FROM AN EDITORIAL ON BLOOMBERG VIEW