Too big to fail

When will big banks grow up?

October 18, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

If the largest banks want no action from regulators in the future, the best place to start is by showing regulators that they don't require their attention at all.

Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein

JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein

By Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance

FORTUNE – Make no mistake, big banks will not be submitting to new regulations without a fight.

A few weeks ago, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon reportedly got so worked up during an exchange with the governor of the Bank of Canada that Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein felt the need to send an email apology to the regulator after the group meeting. (Dimon later acknowledged the intensity with which he expressed his views).

Bankers at the largest institutions may think bullying regulators will stop new capital requirements for the largest institutions -- but that tactic just may not work this time.

Perhaps that's because regulators aren't alone in their concerns. Public opinion is not in favor of letting the largest banks off the hook. Many in the business community (including executives in other industries) are skeptical that, if left to their own devices, the largest banks that relied on the Fed window and bailouts will be able to avoid a repeat of the financial meltdown. And on Saturday, finance ministers from the G20 offered their support for a requirement that big banks be subject to an additional capital surcharge, on top of the capital requirements all international banks will be required to follow.

While some of the arguments bank executives are making are fair (for example, Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit called new capital proposals a blunt instrument), other statements just reinforce the need for additional bank oversight. More

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