Stressed!

Shockingly, the stress tests seem to indicate that Citibank and Bank of America need to raise capital; perhaps that's why I got a notice in the mail yesterday that my Bank of America credit card fees were going up.  I know, I know . . . you didn't see this coming.  None of us did.  You may be feeling that if Citibank and Bank of America can't pass the stress tests without more capital, there's no hope for any financial institution.  You may be pricing canned beans and ammunition.  You may be wondering if there's any point in going on.  This is what valium is for.

 What I'm not clear on is how this helped.  I think Bank of America and Citibank were well aware that they really needed some capital to steady their balance sheet.  Certainly, the rest of us weren't in any doubt.  But capital's sort of scarce right now--you may have read something about it in the papers. Announcing to the world that Bank of America and Citibank are kinda teetering doesn't seem likely to help them tap the capital markets.  It's yet another roundabout way of saying, "Hey, you know, I think we have to give you some more money."

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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