Wall Street banks will have to show their funding can withstand 12 months of economic stress under a rule issued Tuesday, even as industry lobbyists contend the demand would have exacerbated this year’s coronavirus-fueled market strains.
The final rule, approved in a 4-1 vote at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. meeting in Washington, requires that 20 of the biggest U.S. lenders be able to rely on stable funding sources — such as long-term debt and customers’ deposits — in the event of a year-long liquidity drought. The measure, which the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also approved and Federal Reserve was expected to sign off on, could also require that some lenders gather billions of dollars more in liquid assets.
The so-called net stable funding ratio, proposed by U.S. regulators four years ago, started brewing in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis as a global effort agreed to by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The final rule — which takes effect on July 1 of next year — is similar to the earlier proposal, though it gives Treasuries and cash reserves the same treatment to eliminate an incentive for banks to dump Treasuries under pressure.
The banks subjected to the rule — including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — have been operating under a related requirement known as the liquidity coverage ratio, which calls for shorter-term liquidity stockpiles.
Most of the big lenders already meet the demands of the net stable funding ratio, the regulators said. The industry is more than $1 trillion above its liquidity needs, though a small number of unnamed institutions remain below their marks, according to agency officials. At least one bank needs to come up by 8%, and the lenders with liquidity shortfalls may require as much as $31 billion more in total, according to the agencies.
The Bank Policy Institute and other industry lobbyists have long criticized the net stable funding ratio as unnecessary. A recent note from the BPI amplified that criticism, calling the effort “reckless” in arguing that it would have made it even harder for banks to contribute liquidity to Treasury markets under strain — as they were in September and March.
FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said the final rule is consistent with what was proposed in 2016, with some “improvements to the calibration.” However, board member Martin Gruenberg opposed the rule, saying it significantly weakened the earlier proposal and narrowed the scope of banks affected too severely.
Regulators also approved a final rule on Tuesday meant to limit how interconnected the largest banks can be. Lenders will be subjected to higher capital charges if they buy up another bank’s debt designed to meet requirements for total loss-absorbing capacity. That debt is meant to be used to recapitalize a lender if it fails.