It's an economic truism that the best way to discourage undesirable behavior is to make it more expensive, and that appears to be the approach that international banking regulators are taking toward banks with large trading books.

There is little doubt that banks' exuberant leap into businesses like the securitization of subprime and commercial real estate loans over the past decade was a primary cause of the economic meltdown that the world has suffered in the past 18 months. So, regulators are erecting a big toll booth designed to make banks think twice before going down that road again.

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