The U.S. has no shortage of data on the causes and effects of the Great Recession. Regulators have drawn on that information in designing rules intended to curtail the possibility of a repeat event. The severely adverse scenario used by the Federal Reserve's stress tests, for example, mimics the economic data observed during that dark period.

But no two recessions are identical. Though a complete autopsy of the 2008-9 financial crisis is desirable, the real challenge for stress-test designers will be to envisage the next recession and ensure that banks are sufficiently capitalized to withstand the vagaries that such an event will throw at bank capital buffers.

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