Ever wonder what the answer to this question is? If so, read my new paper at SSRN. I make four claims:
1. Bank regulators have used a process which I call “norming,” by which I mean choosing capital levels that weed out the worst banks but leave most of them untouched.
2. Norming is self-evidently (as a matter of the theory of financial regulation) a bad way to regulate banks, guaranteed to produce excessively generous rules that allow most banks to take excessive risks.
3. Inadequate capitalization of banks contributed to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
4. If regulators had been required to use cost-benefit analysis rather than norming, they would have issued stricter capital adequacy rules.