Rodriguez Valladares: 'We Have the Tools to End Too Big to Fail'

Friday, 31 May 2013 07:49 AM

By Michael Kling

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We have the tools to "snuff out" too big to fail institutions, we just need to use the tools properly, argues Mayra Rodriguez Valladares, managing principal at MRV Associates, a financial regulatory consulting and training firm.

Specifically, the Dodd-Frank Act created Title I and Title II, which give power to the FDIC and the Federal Reserve to regulate such banks, she notes.

Title I, she explains in an article for American Banker, grants the Fed the power to "impose capital, liquidity and leverage buffers" on large financial institutions and requires "systemically important" institutions to submit living wills, or plans on how they would be handled in bankruptcy.

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Title II grants regulators the Orderly Liquidation Authority if, and only if, bankruptcy would disrupt the financial system. Using Title II, the FDIC would place a financial institution into a public receivership process.

The Housing Committee on Financial Services recently held a public hearing on whether Title II had solved the too big to fail.

"Never mind that if anything can end too big to fail, it is Title I," Rodriguez Valladares asserts. "Legislators should have a hearing on why Title I keeps getting thwarted. In fact, regulators, legislators, bankers, and the public should do everything they can so that Title I works. The goal is to avoid Title II at all cost."

Those at the hearing, she notes, said Title II was a failure or that the bankruptcy code should be changed to include a new Chapter 14 for handling financial institutions.

Those Chapter 14 proponents don't understand the difference between Title II and bankruptcy, Rodriguez Valladares maintains.

Bankruptcy is designed to maximize the value of a firm's estate for the creditors. Title II is meant to prevent a failing company from posing systemic risk. As Lehman Brothers' collapse showed, "a systemic crisis is neither a solvency nor a capital crisis, but rather a liquidity one."

"If legislators keep caving in to financial lobbies, they will continue to hamstring regulators and then chastise them for not writing rules fast enough," she writes.

And if lobbyists continue to attempt to thwart regulators legislators and the media continue to bash regulators without giving them resources, we may be stuck the same impasse for years, Rodriguez Valladares warns.

"We have the tools to end too big to fail, we just have to use them," she adds.

Sheila Bair, former FDIC director, explains that Dodd-Frank clearly prohibits taxpayer bailouts.

"One of the things that frustrates me with critics of Title II is that they perpetuate the myth of 'Too Big To Fail' by insisting that the government is still going to do bailouts, notwithstanding clear language in Dodd-Frank to the contrary," Bair tells The Washington Post.

"And that just continues the moral hazard by reinforcing market perceptions that the big institutions won't be allowed to fail."

Editor's Note: How to Pay Zero Taxes . . . Legally

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