The Fed Wants to Loosen Bank Rules. It Shouldn’t. Not Yet, Anyway.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

More and more, it looks like ten years is the official period for financial regulators to exhale and declare that what happened in 2008 can never happen again:

A decade after big banks needed government support to dig out of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve is slowly, but steadily, making a series of regulatory changes that could chip away at new requirements put in place to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown.

….Some current and former Fed officials worry that the central bank and its fellow regulators are giving large banks, which are making big profits, an unnecessary gift that could leave the economy exposed in the next downturn. They say the overseers should be forcing banks to maintain or even build up their defenses given the strong economy, which is in its longest expansion on record, rather than eroding those buffers.

….The changes, some put into place and others still under consideration, range from making it easier for big banks to pass the Fed’s annual “stress test” of their financial health to allowing some to borrow more. One idea being floated could quietly reduce capital levels at the biggest American banks over the course of the business cycle.

What could go wrong?

If regulators had a laundry list of smallish changes they wanted to make in the name of efficiency or ease of regulation or something like that, and they were willing to trade the whole package for, say, a small increase in crude leverage requirements, I’d go along. But unilaterally making capital requirements looser simply because banks look to be in pretty good shape these days is as dumb as it comes. Of course banks look pretty solid after ten years of economic expansion. The question is how will they look after they’ve faced their first recession? At the very least, shouldn’t we leave current policies in place until Wall Street successfully navigates an entire economic cycle from trough to trough before deciding that we’re being too tough on the poor babies?

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate