Get with it. It’s not Too Big To Fail, or TBTF; it’s Systematically Important Financial Institutions, or SIFI’s, or Sifis. If you go with TBTF, then it’s Dodd-Frank. If you go with Sifis, then it’s Basel III. Was Dodd-Franks necessary in the wake of the 2008 meltdown and the following Great Recession? Was Glass-Steagall necessary in the wake of the collapse of banks in the 30’s following, but not immediately following, the Crash of ’29? We still can’t agree on what precipitated and then kept the Great Depression in place for a decade or so. And we’re arguing about the Great Recession as well, of course.

That is, we can’t agree from the relative comfort and safety of a think-tank office a couple of generations from those dark days in the Dirty Thirties when a former Treasury Secretary (Glass), and a chairman of the House Banking Committee, (Steagall), put walls between investment banking and insurance on one side, and commercial banking on the other. All in order to prevent deposits from vanishing in the wake of liquidity crisis brought about by risk-taking on the part of omnivorous over-sized banks.

The act was repealed in 1999 and 8 years later the housing bubble started popping, and 9 years later the world’s financial system came uncomfortably close to absolute zero: a gridlocked freeze-up of interbank liquidity in the face of counterparty risk paralysis. If you’re a true libertarian you would have let Wall Street crash, banks go under and common savers lose most or all of what they had deposited in their bank, whether local or money center. Then after the Great Brush Fire had burned away most of what was left standing, you would see the green shoots of a true recovery. Many, however, view this purist libertarian vision of how-to-handle-a-financial-crisis-by-doing-sweet-eff-all with a certain degree of horror.

The problem is how to do just enough regulatory meddling without putting yet another Frank-enstein in motion. It may be that Basel III and it’s capital requirements would have been enough and that Dodd-Frank is a beast that feeds on the fees lawyers, regulators, and ex-legislators-turned-wealthy-lobbyists charge to help guide TBTF banks through it’s zombie-like structure. Thousands and thousands of pages worth of rules and regulations. All which create added costs of entry and hurt smaller more prudent banks. Between excessive moral hazard and no moral hazard, both dangerous extremes, there has to be a reasonable regulatory outcome. Washington, unfortunately, seems congenitally incapable of seeking such a regulatory outcome.