THERE’S a lot to like, if you’re a taxpayer, in the new bipartisan bill from two concerned senators hoping to end the peril of big bank bailouts. But if you’re a large and powerful financial institution that’s too big to fail, you won’t like this bill one bit.
The legislation, called the Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act, emerged last Wednesday; its co-sponsors are Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. It is a smart, simple and tough piece of work that would protect taxpayers from costly rescues in the future.
This means that the bill will come under fierce attack from the big banks that almost wrecked our economy and stand to lose the most if it becomes law.
For starters, the bill would create an entirely new, transparent and ungameable set of capital rules for the nation’s banks — in other words, a meaningful rainy-day fund. Enormous institutions, like JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, would have to hold common stockholder equity of at least 15 percent of their consolidated assets to protect against large losses. That’s almost double the 8 percent of risk-weighted assets required under the capital rules established by Basel III, the latest version of the byzantine international system created by regulators and central bankers.
This change, by itself, would eliminate a raft of problems posed by the risk-weighted Basel approach. Under those rules, banks must hold lesser or greater amounts of capital against assets, depending on the supposed risks they pose. For example, holdings of United States government securities are considered low-risk and require no capital to be held against them. Securities or loans that are riskier require more of a buffer against loss.
Read More at New York Times . By Gretchen Morgenson.