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Bank failures: Man the lifeboats

The banking system is still on life support; A new fund might protect against renewed panic

Rather than congratulating themselves on surviving the great credit crunch and calculating how best to evade politicians’ and regulators’ intrusive calls for pay restraint, bankers should be taking stock and asking themselves whether the worst is over yet.

If it is not, this is the time to prepare new rescue procedures, before the downturn resumes.

"Investors looked into the abyss last fall and withdrew money from the global financial system with unprecedented speed. It wouldn’t be surprising if investors react even more quickly to the next crisis"

Lee Meyerson, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Lee Meyerson, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett  

Lee Meyerson, senior partner and head of the financial institutions practice at law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, points out how completely dependent large parts of the US financial system still are on state support and how unsustainable this is.

"The US mortgage market is now largely federalized," he says. "Nearly 90% of new mortgages are originated for sale to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. The Federal Reserve has been buying Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae paper in amounts approaching their new mortgage volume.

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