Having torched Janet Yellen over the weakness of the so-called "living wills" of the Too-Big-To-Fail banks, it appears Elizabeth Warren's tirade struck home. As WSJ reports, in a sweeping rebuke to Wall Street, U.S. regulators said 11 of the nation's biggest banks haven't demonstrated they can collapse without causing broad, damaging economic repercussions and ordered them to show "significant" progress by July 2015. Of course, the whole 'living will' concept is a self-referential joke, but we leave it to Thomas Hoenig to sum it up: "the plans provide no credible or clear path through bankruptcy that doesn't require unrealistic assumptions and direct or indirect public support." In other words, taxpayers are still on the hook.
In other words, the Fed finally figured out something that is so obvious, even five year olds were well aware: namely that banks fading into darkness, by way of living wills, is sheer idiocy.
The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said bankruptcy plans submitted by big banks make "unrealistic or inadequately supported" assumptions and "fail to make, or even to identify, the kinds of changes in firm structure and practices that would be necessary to enhance the prospects for" an orderly failure. The regulators raised the specter of slapping banks with tougher capital, leverage and other rules—and even eventually forcibly breaking them up—absent significant progress to address the shortcomings.
The findings applied to 11 banks with assets greater than $250 billion, all of which will get letters detailing shortcomings in their so-called "living wills." The firms have until July 1, 2015 to file significantly improved plans or face consequences such as higher capital requirements, borrowing limits, or potentially an order to restructure their firm.
"Despite the thousands of pages of material these firms submitted, the plans provide no credible or clear path through bankruptcy that doesn't require unrealistic assumptions and direct or indirect public support," said Thomas Hoenig, the No. 2 official at the FDIC, in a statement.
So how did we know? Because as the charts below show, just the top 4 US banks hold $213 trillion in derivatives, 92% of the total $230 trillion, something which no living will in this world, or anything else for that matter, can possibly unwind.
Then again, we would have been delighted to watch the expression on people's faces when during the reading of JPM's will it was announced that the bank bequeathed its $68 trillion in derivatives to whatever banks remained solvent in its, shall we say, turbulent wake.