On March 20, 2014, the Federal Reserve announced the summary results of the Dodd-Frank Act 2014 supervisory stress tests for the 30 largest U.S. banking organizations. The results demonstrate the sharply enhanced capital strength and resiliency of the U.S. banking system. Under an “extreme stress scenario”, these U.S. banking organizations could absorb an extraordinary downturn in “pre-provision net revenues” and an unprecedented level of loan losses and still maintain capital levels well above minimum regulatory requirements and almost 40% above the actual capital ratios in 2009.
Posts Tagged ‘Stress tests’
U.S. banking regulation resembles a cat-and-mouse game of industry change and regulatory response. Often, a crisis or industry innovation will lead to a new regulatory regime. Past regulatory regimes have included geographic restrictions, activity restrictions, disclosure mandates, risk management rules, and capital requirements. But the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Act introduced a new strain of banking-industry supervision: regulation by hypothetical. Regulation by hypothetical refers to rules that require banks to predict future crises and weaknesses. Those predictions—which by definition are speculative—become the basis for regulatory intervention. Two illustrative instances of this regulation were codified in Dodd-Frank: stress tests and living wills. They are two pillars on which Dodd-Frank builds to manage risk in systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs).  As I argue in my forthcoming article, regulation by hypothetical in Dodd-Frank should be abandoned for three reasons: it relies on a faulty premise, tasks an agency with a conflicted mission, and likely exacerbates the moral hazards involved with governmental sponsorship of private institutions. Because of these weaknesses, the regulation-by-hypothetical regime must be either abandoned (my first choice) or strengthened. One way to strengthen these hypothetical scenarios would be to conduct financial war games.
The Federal Reserve has issued a final rule adopting a tiered approach for applying Dodd-Frank enhanced prudential standards to foreign banking organizations (“FBOs”). Under the tiered approach the most burdensome requirements (e.g., the requirement to establish a top-tier U.S. intermediate holding company) will only apply to FBOs with large U.S. operations, whereas fewer requirements will apply to FBOs with limited U.S. footprints.
We have summarized below the Dodd-Frank enhanced prudential standards that will apply to the following FBOs with limited U.S. footprints:
This post describes the final regulations issued by the Federal Reserve Board (the “FRB”) on February 18, 2014, that radically modify the former requirements applicable to foreign banking organizations (“FBOs”) pursuant to the FRB’s Regulation K. The final rules (the “Final Rules”) impose various requirements on large FBOs that previously have been applied to large U.S. domestic bank holding companies and banks under the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, however, the Final Rules also alter many of the former approaches to the regulation of FBOs in general, including the necessity for many FBOs to form “U.S. intermediate holding companies” for their U.S. operations.
Regardless of the category an FBO falls into, the Final Rules present significant additional compliance burdens.
On February 18, 2014, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “FRB”) approved a final rule (the “Final Rule”) implementing certain of the “enhanced prudential standards” mandated by Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act” or “Dodd-Frank”). The Final Rule applies the enhanced prudential standards to (i) U.S. bank holding companies (“U.S. BHCs”) with $50 billion (and in some cases, $10 billion) or more in total consolidated assets and (ii) foreign banking organizations (“FBOs”) with (x) a U.S. banking presence, through branches, agencies or depository institution subsidiaries, and (y) depending on the standard, certain designated amounts of assets worldwide, in the United States or in U.S. non-branch assets. The Final Rule’s provisions are the most significant, detailed and prescriptive for the largest U.S. BHCs and the FBOs with the largest U.S. presence—those with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets and, in the case of FBOs, particularly (and with increasing stringency) for FBOs with combined U.S. assets of $50 billion or more or U.S. non-branch assets of $50 billion or more.
Many factors drive banks toward acquisitions, including increasing efficiency due to size, loan/deposit growth opportunities, or expansion of geographical footprints. However, one consideration is always dominant—improving return on investment, or ROI. Whether short, intermediate, or long-term, ROI is the most critical factor in the M&A decision.
Prior to the recession, bank M&A had settled into a well-established, time-proven approach. Bank management established targets and criteria, while investment bankers, lawyers, and accountants facilitated the M&A structure and process, weighing tax and accounting issues. Accretive to earnings gained acceptance as one of the primary justifications for a transaction.
Last Friday, the Federal Reserve issued its summary instructions and guidance (the “CCAR 2014 Instructions”) for the supervisory 2014 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review program (“CCAR 2014”) applicable to bank holding companies with $50 billion or more of total consolidated assets (“Covered BHCs”). Eighteen Covered BHCs will be participating in CCAR for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. An additional 12 institutions will be participating in a full CCAR for the first time during this 2013─2014 cycle.
CCAR 2014 is being conducted under the Federal Reserve’s capital plan rule, which requires the submission and supervisory review of a Covered BHC’s capital plan under stressed conditions (the “Capital Plan Rule”). The Federal Reserve recently amended the Capital Plan Rule to clarify how Covered BHCs must incorporate the new Common Equity Tier 1 measure (“CET1”) and methodology for calculating risk-weighted assets from the recently adopted U.S. Basel III-based final capital rules into their capital plan submissions and Dodd-Frank stress tests for the 2013–2014 cycle. Under the Capital Plan Rule and CCAR 2014, a Covered BHC’s capital plan is evaluated by the Federal Reserve on both quantitative (that is, whether the Covered BHC can meet applicable numerical regulatory capital minimums and a Tier 1 common ratio of at least five percent) and qualitative grounds.
On June 5, 2013, the SEC voted unanimously to propose alternatives for amending rules that govern money market mutual funds under the Investment Company Act of 1940. Two alternative reforms to rule 2a-7 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 could be adopted separately or combined into a single reform package:
- Alternative One: Floating Net Asset Value (“NAV”): The proposal would require all institutional prime money market funds to sell and redeem shares based on the current market value of the fund’s portfolio securities, rounded to the fourth decimal place, rather than at a $1.00 stable share price. Retail and government money market funds would be exempt from the floating net asset value requirement and would be allowed to continue using the penny-rounding method of pricing to maintain a stable share price but would not be allowed to use the amortized cost method to value securities.
- Alternative Two: Liquidity Fees and Redemption Gates: Money market funds, other than government money market funds, would be required to impose a 2% liquidity fee if the fund’s level of weekly liquid assets fell below 15% of its total assets, unless the fund’s board of directors (a “Board”) determined that it was not in the best interest of the fund or that a lesser liquidity fee was in the best interests of the fund. After a fund has fallen below the 15% weekly liquid assets threshold, the Board would also be able to temporarily suspend redemptions in the fund for no more than 30 days in any 90-day period.
Following closely on the heels of Federal Reserve Governor Daniel K. Tarullo’s November 2012 speech, the Federal Reserve has proposed a tiered approach for applying U.S. capital, liquidity and other Dodd-Frank enhanced prudential standards, including single counterparty credit limits, risk management, stress testing and early remediation requirements, to the U.S. operations of foreign banking organizations with total global consolidated assets of $50 billion or more (“Large FBOs”). Most Large FBOs would have to create a separately capitalized top-tier U.S. intermediate holding company (“IHC”) that would hold all U.S. bank and nonbank subsidiaries. A Large FBO with combined U.S. assets of less than $10 billion, excluding its U.S. branch and agency assets, would not be required to form an IHC.
The IHC would be subject to U.S. capital, liquidity and other enhanced prudential standards on a consolidated basis. In addition, the Federal Reserve would have the authority to examine any IHC and any subsidiary of an IHC. Although the U.S. branches and agencies of a Large FBO’s foreign bank would not be required to be held beneath the IHC, they too would be subject to liquidity, single counterparty credit limits and, in certain circumstances, asset maintenance requirements. Large FBOs not required to form an IHC would also be subject to many of the new enhanced prudential standards.
This memorandum provides an overview of key aspects of the Federal Reserve’s proposal, which would become effective on July 1, 2015. We invite you to also read the accompanying diagrams and tables for a visual representation of these new requirements, available here. The comment period for the proposal ends on March 31, 2013.
The Federal Reserve launched the 2013 capital planning and stress testing process for large bank holding companies (“BHCs”) with the publication, on November 9, 2012, of two sets of instructions: one set for the 19 BHCs that participated in the 2011 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (“CCAR”) process (“CCAR BHCs”) and another set for the 11 other U.S.-domiciled, top-tier BHCs with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more that did not participate in the 2011 CCAR process (“non-CCAR BHCs”). On the same day, the Federal Reserve joined with other U.S. banking agencies to announce that recent proposals to implement Basel III in the United States will not become effective on January 1, 2013.
The Federal Reserve’s instructions for the CCAR BHCs, which reveal how the Dodd-Frank Act’s stress testing requirements will be integrated with the Federal Reserve’s capital planning requirements, are instructive for the non-CCAR BHCs that will become subject to Dodd-Frank stress-testing requirements in the 2014 capital planning cycle. Similarly, nonbank financial companies designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) for supervision by the Federal Reserve will be subject to Dodd-Frank stress-testing requirements and, under a proposal by the Federal Reserve, would also be required to submit annual capital plans to the Federal Reserve.
For the CCAR BHCs, the two most significant changes from the 2012 process are: