Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Now Playing on SIFI

That would be "Systemically Important Financial Institution," a new phenomenon introduced by the Doddering-Frank reform law. Briefly, it seeks to force a square peg (an insurer, for example) into a round hole (ie banking), and subject that square peg to a battery of financial stability exams, aka "Stress Tests."

Which is what MetLife recently underwent.

And apparently failed:

"MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) was one of four large financial institutions late Tuesday deemed to have failed a “stress test” imposed on large banking institutions by the Federal Reserve Board"

To which I say: "And so?"

In case our betters in DC hadn't noticed, an insurance company is not a bank. Just as convenience items birth control is not medicine, and squirrels aren't fish. Seems simple enough for even a DC bureauweenie to grasp, but apparently not:

"Industry analysts said the decision was based on evaluating MetLife by using criteria used to evaluate banks and not insurance companies."

But that's just folks who actually understand the difference between a bank and an insurer. In the meantime, the results now make it difficult for MetLife to shore up their own financials, barring them from a planned stock buyback and dividend increase.

Heaven forfend that a company try to improve its financial outlook.

To paraphrase Bob, "Clueless regulators, Papa Washington."

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