July 15, 2024

Higher Reserves Proposed for ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks

After nearly two years of political jousting, a panel of global regulators said on Saturday that banks deemed too big to fail would have to set aside an additional cushion of capital reserves in what is the centerpiece of their efforts to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

The chief oversight group of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision proposed that the world’s largest and most complex banks would need to hold a reserve of high-quality capital of between 1 and 2.5 percent of their assets to cope with any unforeseen losses. That would be on top of their proposed minimum capital levels for all banks, currently set at 7 percent of assets.

Regulators plan to impose the surcharge on a sliding scale, based on several factors including the bank’s size, complexity and the closeness of its ties to other large trading partners around the world.

And in what appears to be a nod to regulators pressing for even higher requirements, the committee proposed an additional surcharge on banks who grow larger or engage in risky activities that would “increase materially” the threat they pose to the financial system. The surcharge could raise the requirement to 3.5 percent of assets.

The process is only just beginning. The Basel committee will put out a more detailed proposal in late July, giving banks and policymakers a final chance to weigh in on the new rules before formally approving them. Then, regulators must begin the process of identifying these so-called “systemically important” global banks. The banks, meanwhile, will not have to fully comply with the new rules until January 2019.

The proposed capital requirements are perhaps the most important banking reform since the crisis erupted three years ago and are being followed closely in the world’s financial and political capitals. If banks are forced to hold bigger cushions of capital, they can more easily absorb financial shocks and avoid the need for taxpayer bailouts. But setting aside more capital means that banks also have less money available to lend out — a move that could dampen economic growth and potentially hinder an already anemic global recovery.

Amid aggressive lobbying by some of the largest banks for weaker capital requirements, international financial regulators have spent the last two years trying to strike the right balance. They also are trying to bridge different national standards, which might give countries with more favorable requirements a competitive advantage.

In a statement Saturday, the panel of regulators said the new measures would create strong incentives for large banks to curb risky behavior that could endanger the financial system. “This will contribute to enhancing the resiliency of the banking system and help mitigate the wider spill-over risks,” said Nout Wellink, a central banker from the Netherlands who is chairman of the Basel Committee.

American regulators pushed for a higher surcharge and better loss-absorbing capital, while European regulators, especially those in Germany and France, preferred a lower surcharge and broader definition of capital.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=38c7297c598e62d0e1cfd3ac59b55387

Speak Your Mind