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Review: The slow, painful grind to safer banks

June 1, 2015

It’s now received wisdom that America can’t afford to forget financial crises. Veteran FDIC bank examiner John Bovenzi manages to corral the evidence in a surprisingly readable book, joining the dots from the 1980s S&L rout to the start of too-big-to-fail and subprime stupidity.

Europe’s banks lose their cover on leverage ratio

April 11, 2014

European lenders used to defend their lowball equity-to-assets ratios by claiming U.S. rules were more lax. But new American proposals would use fundamentally the same methodology, with a higher pass mark. Tougher standards for EU banks are now much more likely.

America’s too big to fail just keep getting bigger

August 23, 2011

America's biggest banks are indeed recovering nicely. But they are doing so at the expense of the country's thousands of smaller institutions.

Headless financial watchdogs needn’t be toothless

December 8, 2011

Senate Republicans blocked another Obama nominee to lead a key agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Politics is making it tough to solidify leadership at a handful of top regulators. But as the FDIC is proving, acting directors can still get things done.

Directors and officers insurance declaws clawbacks

December 19, 2011

Forcing bosses to repay undeserved rewards is central to U.S. financial reforms. But new D&O policies are now covering the risk of lost comp - at shareholder expense. Insurers deny helping executives skirt accountability. Investors and watchdogs may see things differently.

BankUnited sends ominous sign with its white flag

January 17, 2012

The Florida lender rescued from the dustbin by private equity was supposed to forge an exemplary path by rolling up small banks, finding efficiencies and creating more competition. But crummy business, picky regulators and rivals too delusional to sell have left it up for grabs.

Regulator grudge match redux: Geithner vs Bair

June 21, 2012

The former FDIC chief has formed an independent group to help push forward reforms in the U.S. financial system. The primary pressure point will be the council of regulators led by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The two have sparred before. But their interests now look aligned.

U.S. banks loath to kick even soft crisis drug

July 31, 2012

Community banks are pushing to extend a crisis program under which the FDIC insures $1.5 trln of deposits without limit. Yet the program helps concentrate risk, distorts funding costs and brings outsized benefits to bigger banks like JPMorgan. There’s every reason to let it die.

Review: Bairing the strain of failed regulation

October 12, 2012

Former U.S. bank regulator Sheila Bair is by no means perfect, as several incidents in “Bull by the Horns” demonstrate. But she put taxpayers first and argued for banks to shoulder more of the burden for the industry’s failures, which is how the system is supposed to work.

U.S. gets religion on adopting mortgage standards

March 30, 2011

A time traveler from the 1950s would hardly blink at the standards American regulators are mulling for run-of-the-mill home loans.