Disgust: "Can there be more Monday-morning quarterbacking? Bankers blame borrowers and regulators. Borrowers blame banks and crony capitalism. On and on — the blame game! Where were these geniuses before this all happened? Bankers used far too much leverage. Regulators and legislators relaxed regulations for 20 years leading up to the crisis but nobody wants to own up! Since 2009, regulators have fined banks over $250 billion, but this typically only punishes investors versus those who are actually accountable. Totally disgusting. To boot, many complain about the size of banks when actions taken by overseers more fully entrench the largest banks through barriers created by the enhanced regulatory and compliance maze. How can I not be disgusted?"
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Anger: "Money, power, and votes. That's what this is all about. Incentives drive bad behavior and these incentives have not changed. For politicians, it is en vogue to bash the banks to gain votes. If you need votes, what's the easiest thing to do? Bash the banks. For banks, it's high time to disclose more of that opaque information and listen to investors more. Who holds the banks' boards accountable? Some CEOs and top executives continue to get paid disproportionately to their performance. You mess up, you still get paid. What is this? Money, power, and votes. Little has changed and that makes me angry."
Fear: "Sometimes I get so worried that these regulators are overdoing it. When will regulators be done with all of the new rules? My fear is that, while these rules keep piling up, we'll wind up with a less spirited, less effective system. As a consequence, banks can be tempted to stretch for growth. For example, loans typically grow six times faster in an economic expansion and revenues follow. However, during this decade, revenue growth is the worst we have seen since the time of the Great Depression. If and when banks stretch for growth, mistakes are made with sometimes systemic consequences."
Joy: "Ahh. Cheer up. It could be worse." As a bank analyst, I take comfort that industry-defect rates (loan losses) are typically one out of 100. While they reached three out of 100 during the crisis, the ratios are actually worse when talking about life-threatening situations like injuries in Formula One racing (four out of 100), NFL concussions (10 out of 100), and mold in cranberry sauce (15 out of 100). The banks are, in general, more resilient today with stronger balance sheets than in a couple decades. Indeed, banks are on pace — within about five years — to have enough excess cushion to write off another theoretical housing crisis. And the industry would still have more capital than it had BEFORE the last crisis. This means that the chances of massive bank bailouts of the type from the last crisis are quite remote. Yes, there are threats from crisis, technology, regulation, and competition. Yet, banking has been one of the most efficient ways to allocate scarce resources for thousands of years. We aren't going anywhere. And that makes me happy!"
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