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U.S. Bank Regulators Set Up Greek Tragedy

Frank Mayer -- a partner in the Financial Services Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP -- said that "the regulation of any asset as risk-free often distorts bank behavior to create systemic risk," pointing out that before the credit crisis, "there was similar treatment [with zero percent risk-weighting] for AAA-rated mortgage backed securities."

Mayer added that another interesting point that will be discussed at length during the regulatory comment period is the definition of "sovereign debt," since euro zone members "are not necessarily in full control of their own monetary and fiscal policy."

The term "default" will also need to be more clearly defined, according to Mayer, since a country can have an "outright default," where they fail to pay interest on debt, or the country could simply start printing money, "which can be construed a type of default. "

Mayer said that the U.S. regulators' "CRC reliance is a starting point, since it is considered less subject to conflicts of interest," but that "under Dodd Frank, that the you have to monitor your own portfolio to do your own analysis. You are responsible for your balance sheet."

Fitch Ratings on Thursday cut its ratings on eight "Global Trading and Universal Banks," including U.S. giants Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) and Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report), as well as Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report), Barclays PLC (BCS), BNP Paribas (BNP) Societe Generale, and Credit Suisse (CS - Get Report), saying that the group's "business models are particularly sensitive to the increased challenges the financial markets face," including "economic developments as well as a myriad of regulatory changes."

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn.

To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/PhilipvanDoorn
Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.
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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
MS $33.80 0.03%
BCS $15.56 -0.64%
BAC $15.93 0.50%
CS $26.25 0.23%
DB $29.26 0.91%

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