A person writes a "living will" so caretakers will know his wishes if his health starts to fail. Now, nine of the world's largest financial institutions have to do the same thing so regulators will know what to do if one of them fails.
The biggest financial firms have until July 1 to submit their living wills to the FDIC and Federal Reserve, as required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that aims to regulate financial institutions.
The firms include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and others with more than $250 billion in non-bank assets like derivatives. Financial institutions with smaller assets will have until the end of 2013 to submit their living wills.
"The question is: If there is another crisis, how do you avoid the 'too big to fail' problem?" said Joe Nocera, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and contributor to WNYC.
Nocera said the living wills will detail what would happen to credit default swaps, investment banking divisions and other parts of big banks in the case of a collapse.