Banks and banking operate a complex ecosystem of transaction types, subject to laws and regulations designed to promote their safety and soundness. Since 2008, global bank regulators have been challenged to monitor compliance, and design preemptive rules and financial ratios that signal a bank venturing into harm’s way, a bank that ultimately will represent systemic risk, or join a tidal wave of banks at risk of failure. Banks have a recurring cycle of failure, consolidation and taxpayer bailout.

Historically, bank regulators and the banks themselves operate in part transparently, and in part secretly. Banks and their regulators fear a “run on the bank” if it were known that a particular bank was out of compliance with normal performance ratios. “Stress test results” are rarely made public, except to try to assure the public that the system and its bank members are safe and sound.

In the Information Age, the transparency available to operate and regulate banks is vastly more diverse and rich than the reports filed quarterly under federal regulations. So too, the transparency required of banks is a disorganized pattern of laws whose purposes were targeted, and thereby narrowed to the detriment of gaining full perspective, of seeing the healthy forest and the health of its trees.

Project leader: Bruce Cahan

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