FUN WITH STRESS TESTS.

The Wall Street Journal has a very cool interactive graphic today allowing you to compare the stress test results for different banks. I'm not sure what you actually gain from the exercise -- all these banks seem certain to survive the downturn, and Feds insure individual deposits anyway -- but it's a good way to waste a few minutes.

The attached article sheds some more light on the negotiations between bank presidents and the government's stress testers. Particularly worrying is the government's decision to switch from measuring tangible common equity to Tier 1 common capital. Tangible common equity is the more traditional measurement, but if it had been used, the banks would have had to raise an additional $68 billion. Aside from that, there's not been an explanation offered for the change.

The article also suggests that some banks are rather more persuasive than others. Citigroup managed to knock the government's final judgment from $35 billion in needed capital to a paltry $5.5 billion in needed capital. Bank of America, conversely, could only get from $50 billion to $33.9 billion. Impressive, but nothing like Citigroup's all-star performance.

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