Though up to this point, attempts at an official definition of subprime' had been criticized for being impracticably vague, the regulators' most recent stab far surpasses those that came before it, in terms of clarity.

The document, compiled by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of Thrift Supervision, was released last week.

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