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Stressed By The Test

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So remember that totally crazy rumor everyone thought was insane to the effect that pretty much all of the banks (16 of 19) failed the stress tests? Or were "technically insolvent," whatever that means? That rumor seems to have originated with a April 19th weblog entry from Turner Radio Network listing 7 facts about the stress tests and summarizing with "Put bluntly, the entire US Banking System is in complete and total collapse." Well, that eventually looked like a total hoax- intended to be outlandish for the shockingly poor results turned in by the banks tested. But apparently the real results aren't particularly fantastic either. Specifically:

About 10 of the 19 largest U.S. banks being stress tested will be instructed by regulators to raise more capital, according to a source familiar with official talks.
The banks have been negotiating with their regulators about the depth of their capital needs, should the recession prove to be deeper and longer than anticipated. Markets have been anxiously anticipating the results, which will differentiate the strongest banks from those still expected to sustain considerable credit losses.

What could be a more perfect opportunity for the DecaSplit 10 unit splitscreen segment on CNBC? Reuters managed only eight (and since the exact list of the failuresbanks needing further assistance from various agencies and the gracious demeanor of the American public hasn't been released yet, these might not even vaguely resemble the real list. Well except for Ken Lewis. And Count Vikula) so CNBC has a huge opening here.

About 10 U.S. stress test banks to need more capital [Reuters]


Courtesy Federal Reserve.

GAO Asks Fed To Stress Test The Stress Test

Janet Yellen needs to solve the problem of knowledge.

Citi Will Try The Stress Test Again With A $9bn Stock Buyback

More stress tests, bleargh. I guess the news is that Citi "failed", though I can't get all that excited by that because it didn't exactly "fail" in the sense of now it's being forced to raise capital / broken up / burned to the ground. Instead it failed assuming it follows the capital plan it submitted to the Fed, which is clearly a capital-lowering rather than capital-raising plan. I ballpark it at $10bn of share repurchases and dividends,* which is ... well, it's pretty big for Citi. So they can just not do that then. Or not do quite as much of that, which seems to be their plan: In light of the Federal Reserve’s actions, Citi will submit a revised Capital Plan to the Federal Reserve later this year, as required by the applicable regulations. The Federal Reserve advised Citi that it has no objection to our continuing the existing dividend levels on our preferred stock and our common stock, and we plan to do so, subject to approval by the Board of Directors each quarter. The Federal Reserve also advised that it has no objection to Citi redeeming certain series of outstanding trust preferred securities, as Citi proposed in its Capital Plan. We plan to engage further with the Federal Reserve to understand their new stress loss models. We strongly encourage the public release of these models and the associated benchmarks and assumptions. We believe greater transparency in this process will best serve all banking institutions and their shareholders as well as the international regulatory community and market participants, and will encourage a level playing field globally. There are at least two ha! moments in that snotty last paragraph. First there's the fact that the Fed had planned to release the stress test results on Thursday and got gun-jumped by Jamie Dimon. So much for Fed transparency. But also, specifically, as people are all running around suing each other about the Fed maybe kind of encouraging bank CEOs to hide material information from investors, it is odd that the Fed would have the stress test results and sit on them for two days. Imagine the scenario where Jamie Dimon, Vikram Pandit, and the Fed all know that JPM passed and was going to do a largeish buyback, while Citi failed and was going to do a ... I guess somewhat smaller buyback - and they didn't tell anyone from today until Thursday. If you sold JPM to buy C today, wouldn't you be kind of annoyed?**