The PCA Cure for Much That Ails New Banking Rules
It’s a cliché, but it’s also true that one can’t beat something with nothing, especially in Washington. This is an axiom well worth remembering when it comes to all of the new capital and resolution rules befalling the nation’s biggest banks. I don’t think they need to be beaten back in their entirety – much in the proposals fixes vital flaws. But the agencies have done a remarkably poor job conjuring the impact of each of these sweeping proposals, let alone their cumulative impact in the context of all the other rules and the grievous supervisory lapses that contributed to recent failures no matter all the rules that could well have sufficed if enforced. Thus, the most obvious problems with this new construct are opacity, complexity, and most importantly reasonable doubts that, even with all these sharpened arrows, supervisors will still fail to draw their bows and then fire early and often. All too much in the new rules is false science, as even a cursory read of the impact analyses makes painfully clear. Instead of setting standards on lofty, unproven models, safeguards should rely on an engineering axiom: use warning lights that force prompt and corrective action. Think of the ground warning in an airplane followed by urgent “pull-up” commands and then go to work on the banking dashboard with clear, enforceable rules and new PCA thresholds forcing supervisory action and accountability.