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Top US banks tell regulators they're not too big to fail

Nine of the largest global banks on Tuesday expressed confidence they can be salvaged or dismantled without taxpayer bailouts if they became insolvent, as U.S. regulators released public portions of these banks' “living wills.”

The documents, required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, aim to end too-big-to-fail bailouts by mapping out ways that, in theory, mortally wounded banks could go out of business without wrecking the financial system.

If regulators find that the resolution plans are not credible, they could force the banks to sell off business lines and restructure to become less complex.

But some experts doubt how hard regulators will push the banks for changes or how useful hypothetical resolution plans will be in major financial crisis.

The public portions released on Tuesday and are a few dozen pages per bank summarizing thousands of pages submitted confidentially to regulators.

The banks argued in the public documents that their resolution plans will work, with no cost to taxpayers or great consequence to the financial system. They used technical generalities in their conclusions without specifically addressing the unpredictable and vicious nature of a credit crisis.

Bank of America Corp., for example, said in its plan that “certain assets and liabilities would be transferred to a bridge bank that would, subject to certain assumptions, emerge from resolution as a viable going concern.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. concluded that its plan “would not require extraordinary government support, and would not result in losses being borne by the U.S. government.” And, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it would find a broad range of potential buyers for its assets, including global financial institutions, private equity funds, insurance companies or sovereign wealth funds.

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