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We said from the start that finalizing the capital rules as proposed would be difficult because I have truly never seen a sweeping rule buttressed by such shoddy analytics. It’s of course true that lots of rules make little sense, but rules that cost companies as much as the capital rules are uniquely vulnerable to substantive and legal challenges. This is even more likely when, as now, the proposal’s victims know how to temper political claims with well-founded assertions of analytical flaws and unintended consequences. When regulatory credibility is effectively undermined, even those who might otherwise side with the regulators become cautious, if not actually averse to doing so. And thus, it has come to pass for the end-game rules.
As our analyses of all of the comment letters filed last week by dozens of Democrats make clear, only a few super-progressive Democrats now stand firmly with the regulators and even they have a few qualms. Maybe the agencies will try to bull it out – we thought so as recently as early this month in our outlook. We were clear there that major changes would need to be made to finalize the end-game rules; now, we’re not sure even these will do. The odds now are considerably higher for the re-proposal pressed last week by FRB Govs. Waller and Bowman.
The agencies are of course not naïve. They knew that the final rule would have to show a few concessions to its critics. As a result, …