Barr signals significant changes to bank capital, stress testing requirements

Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr today previewed potential changes that could come out of a “holistic review” of bank capital standards that the agencies are currently undertaking. Among other things, Barr signaled possible changes to the stress testing framework for large banks that could involve “using multiple scenarios or adapting the stress tests in other ways to better account for the high degree of interconnectedness between banks and other financial entities.”

“We are currently evaluating whether the supervisory stress test that is used to set capital requirements for large banks reflects an appropriately wide range of risks,” Barr said. “In addition, we are considering the potential for stress testing to be a tool to explore different sources of financial stress and uncover channels for contagion that lead to unanticipated consequences.”

Barr said the agencies are also weighing whether long-term debt requirements would be appropriate for large, non-global systemically important banks. (U.S. GSIBs are currently subject to such requirements, which are intended to help mitigate the potential cost of resolution.) Additionally, regulators are “exploring the empirical evidence and examining whether adjustments to the leverage ratio might be appropriate in the context of our holistic capital review, as well as in the context of broader reforms being undertaken by the Federal Reserve and a range of other agencies.”