Jesse Eisinger from ProPublica skewers big banks’ objections to increasing capital buffers as proposed by the bipartisan Brown-Vitter bill:
Goldman Sachs and S.& P. estimate the big banks might be forced to raise $1 trillion or more. That’s a lot, so much that the leviathans’ agents cry out that they couldn’t sell that much stock. But they don’t have to raise it all at once. And they can retain their earnings and stop paying dividends in addition to selling shares.
In putting that argument forward, they don’t realize they make Senator Brown’s and Senator Vitter’s case for them. If investors are so terrified of the big banks that they won’t buy their stock, that’s a terrific problem. Most of the big banks trade below their net worth, an indication that investors don’t trust them. Brown-Vitter might actually help banks by restoring that trust.