The 35 largest U.S. banks are poised to put more money
toward dividends, share buybacks and business investments, after clearing the
first stage of an annual regulatory stress test on Thursday, showing they have
enough capital to withstand an extreme recession.
Although the lenders would suffer $578 billion in total
losses in the Federal Reserve’s most severe scenario to date, their level of
high-quality capital would be greater than the threshold that regulators demand
- and above levels seen immediately leading up to the 2007-2009 crisis, the Fed
Thursday’s results are the first of a two-part exam,
showing whether banks would meet minimum requirements under the Fed’s
methodology, using materials they submitted. Some might still stumble in next
week’s second, tougher test, which includes operational factors like risk
“This is the science and next week is the art,” said Mike
Alix, financial services risk leader at PwC. “This is the mathematical
calculation that shows there are robust levels of capital for most firms. Next
week will be the judgment.”
The Fed introduced the stress tests during the financial
crisis to ensure the strength of the banking industry, whose ability to lend is
considered crucial to the health of the economy.
Since the first test in 2009, banks have seen losses abate,
loan portfolios improve and profits grow. The banks that now undergo the exam
have also strengthened their balance sheets by adding more than $800 billion in
top-notch capital, the Fed said.
U.S. subsidiaries of six foreign lenders, including
Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG, also go through the
test and had their results publicly released for the first time.
Deutsche Bank, whose U.S. operations have been under
intense regulatory scrutiny, also easily met all the minimum capital
requirements, as did Credit Suisse and UBS, the results showed.
Other banks tested include household names like JPMorgan
Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co,
as well as major regional lenders like Capital One Financial Corp, PNC
Financial Services Group Inc and U.S. Bancorp and Wall Street banks Goldman
Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.
Banks investors view the test as a hurdle for capital
returns through stock buybacks and dividends. It could also boost the case for
regulatory relief promised by the Trump administration.
The Fed increases the difficulty of the test as the broader
economic environment improves. This year the test features a severe global
recession with the U.S. unemployment rate rising by almost 6 percentage points
to 10 percent, accompanied by a steepening Treasury yield curve.
Some banks’ results were hurt this time by the new federal
tax law, which changed the impact of past losses on hypothetical tax bills under
the scenarios, senior Fed officials said.
The second portion of the test will be released on
Wednesday. Those results will determine whether the Fed approves or denies
capital plans. Banks now have an opportunity to resubmit those plans if they
find their own projections were much sunnier than the Fed’s.
here for the original article from Reuters.