11 mei 2009

'Stress Tests' Less Stressful?

As Pointer already figured out some weeks ago that the stress tests would be not that stressful because the rules of bookkeeping became altered just in time, in fact making fraud legal, also Alternet reports the Wall Street Journal by now got the point:

This week, the government released the results of the stress tests performed on the nation’s 19 largest banks. According to the report, Bank of America’s $34 billion hole was the largest. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the Fed Reserve initially estimated Bank of America’s figure at more than $50 billion. Over the last few weeks, a number of banks successfully lobbied the Fed to make the stress tests less stressful:
The Federal Reserve significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation’s biggest banks shortly before concluding its stress tests, following two weeks of intense bargaining.
In addition, according to bank and government officials, the Fed used a different measurement of bank-capital levels than analysts and investors had been expecting, resulting in much smaller capital deficits.
The Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo notes that one interesting element of the announcement last week is that the banks will now have the opportunity to convert government debt into equity if the need arises, leaving the taxpayer on the hook for a larger bailout of the banks.

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