Too Early to Tell If Dodd-Frank Ends “Too Big To Fail”

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The debate regarding “too big to fail” (“TBTF”) has reemerged as a focus of regulators, legislators, and the media. We review the regulatory activity since the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted and show that new proposals intended to address TBTF tend to put the policy cart before the regulatory implementation horse.

By our count, regulators have amassed over 1,650 pages in proposed and final rules that seek to address TBTF, which we roughly define as proposals that seek to limit the size of financial institutions, the scope of their activities or otherwise seek to protect the Federal safety net (which we use as a term to refer to any Federal assistance, including deposit insurance). In addition, there are provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“DFA”) which address TBTF that do not require rulemaking.

Despite this volume of regulatory work to implement the DFA’s reforms, which is mostly not yet complete, proposals for new measures are being put forward, including...

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