RSS
Timothy Geithner’s stress test
Should the Obama team release the results of its large-bank “stress tests,” despite the pitfalls?
T

alk about a “stress test,” said Kathleen Pender in the San Francisco Chronicle. With the Obama administration’s announcement that it will release some results of its financial stress tests on the largest 19 U.S. banks, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner finds himself in a “no-win situation.” He can hardly backtrack now, but if he reveals meaningful information, depositors and investors will surely flee the unhealthiest banks.

So what if they do? said Paul LaMonica in CNNmoney.com. “It’s not the job of the Treasury or FDIC to prevent investors from selling off shares of banks that have poor fundamentals.” The Treasury has to accept that there are good banks—maybe Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo—and bad banks, and it’s better if we all know which are which.

“Uncle Sam doesn’t recommend stocks,” said Scott Reeves in Minyanville, so what business does it have giving a “de facto” thumbs-up or thumbs-down to individual banks? An implicit “nay” would mean “curtains for a weaker bank.”

Precisely, said Massimo Calabresi in Time. The banks are balking at selling their toxic assets at today’s market prices, despite Obama’s appeals and our “massive subsidies.” The stress tests could be the “weapon” Team Obama needs to make banks “clean up their acts,” and balance sheets.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week