Chris Whalen is a highly regarded banking analyst who has been quite critical of the goings on with banks and their regulators. However, he is very even-handed in his assessment of the Fed’s latest stress tests of the largest 19 banks. The banks are much better capitalised than they were when the crisis broke out and than European banks but the second lien exposure is still with us as are the underwater mortgages carried at par on banks books.
Clearly, the stress tests were as much a PR exercise as they were financial analysis, one reason that the Fed merged macro economic analysis and financial analysis to build stress scenarios. The point is reassure the public that US banks are well capitalised so that they can go back to paying out larger dividends and buying back shares.