Frustrated by the seeming inability of regulators and prosecutors to hold bank executives to account for losses inflicted by their companies before, during, and since the financial crisis of 2008, some scholars have suggested that private-attorney-general suits such as class action and shareholder derivative suits might achieve better results. While a few isolated suits might be successful in cases where there is provable fraud, such remedies are no general panacea for preventing large-scale bank-inflicted losses. Large losses are nearly always the result of unforeseeable or suddenly changing economic conditions, poor business judgment, or inadequate regulatory supervision—usually a combination of all three.

Yet regulators face an increasingly complex task in supervising modern financial institutions. This Article explains how the challenge has become so difficult. It argues for preserving regulatory discretion rather than reducing it through formal congressional direction. The Article also asserts that regulators have to develop their own sophisticated methods of automated supervision. Although also not a panacea, the development of “RegTech” solutions will help clear away volumes of work that understaffed and underfunded regulators cannot keep up with. RegTech will not eliminate policy considerations, nor will it render regulatory decisions noncontroversial. Nevertheless, a sophisticated deployment of RegTech should help focus regulatory discretion and public-policy debate on the elements of regulation where choices really matter.

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