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Washington
Senators seek GAO too-big-bank study refinements
WASHINGTON (4/23/14)--As it develops a second report on "too-big-to-fail" banks and the benefits they may have received due to "perceived government support," a pair of senators have encouraged the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be mindful to "compare apples to apples."  

The senators encouraged the GAO to consider important criteria and relevant questions that will help members of the U.S. Congress properly evaluate the GAO report.

The letter to the GAO was sent by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).  The lawmakers charged that the GAO's first report on "too-big-to-fail" banks was incomplete and that lawmakers did not find it all that useful to their oversight responsibilities.

They pushed the GAO to beyond determining whether or not a "perceived funding advantage" exists and explore instead whether there is a  competitive advantage created by that perception.

The senators requested that the GAO, in its analysis, consider how the Dodd-Frank Act and other regulatory reforms may have impacted credit ratings and investor confidence in the market. Other items that should be added to the GAO's analysis include:
  • Whether portions of Dodd-Frank that ban bailouts can be circumvented;
  • If stress test protocols developed and implemented by the Federal Reserve have impacted risks taken by relevant bank creditors, and if the stress tests reduce the likelihood of large bank failures; and
  • How the current capital positions of large financial institutions compare to those taken before the financial crisis.
The senators also encouraged the GAO to limit its analysis to only U.S. banks, the eight firms that the Financial Stability Board has labeled "systemically important." The GAO should also exclude non-financial firms such as insurance companies and asset managers from its analysis, they said. 

Carper and Kirk also asked if the competitive advantage seen in the banking industry is disproportionate to the advantages large firms enjoy in other industries.


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