Though the stress tests could be dismissed as little more than political theater, even the harshest critics concede they accomplished something important: breathing room.
"The strategy of procrastination worked," said Kip Weissman, a partner at Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick PC. "The Obama administration was playing for time, hoping things would get better. That seems to be what is happening. Banks have a lot more options than they did 60 days ago."