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On June 28, the Federal Reserve released the results of the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) conducted for 35 firms. This is the eighth year the Fed has conducted the CCAR exercise for the largest U.S.-based bank holding companies. The Fed considers quantitative and qualitative factors in its evaluation, including projected capital ratios under hypothetical severe economic conditions and strength of the firm’s risk management, internal controls, and governance practices that support the capital planning process. This year, 18 firms were subject to both quantitative and qualitative assessments, and 17 firms were only subject to the quantitative assessment. The Fed objected to one firm’s capital plan based on qualitative concerns and issued conditional non-objections to two firms based on changes to the tax law that negatively affected capital levels. However, the one-time reductions are not considered a reflection of the firms’ performances under stress. Overall, U.S. firms have substantially increased their capital since 2009 when the first round of stress tests were conducted.
On April 10, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) announced proposed changes intended to simplify the capital regime applicable to bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets by integrating the Board’s regulatory capital rule (capital rule) and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) and stress test rules. The proposal introduces a “stress capital buffer” (SCB) requirement which will replace the existing fixed capital conservation buffer requirement. Under the proposal, the size of the SCB will be based on the annual stress test and will be added to the bank’s capital requirements for the coming year. For globally systemically important banks (GSIB), a GSIB surcharge will be added to the determined SCB amount. According to the Board’s announcement, the amount of capital required for GSIBs will generally stay the same or somewhat increase, while non-GSIBs will generally see a modest decrease. Overall, the Board states that the changes would reduce the number of capital-related requirements from 24 to 14. Comments on the proposal are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On February 1, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published stress testing scenarios to be used when conducting the 2018 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) evaluations and stress test exercises for large bank holding companies and large U.S. operations of foreign firms. Instructions for participating banks also were released. According to the Fed, in an effort designed to “support the transition to stress testing,” foreign banks will only be required to participate in a “simplified global market shock” portion of the CCAR evaluation. As previously covered in InfoBytes, last December the Fed issued a request for comments on three proposals designed to increase stress testing transparency and resiliency of large, complex banks. This included a proposal to publically release, for the first time, information concerning the models and methodologies used during supervisory stress tests, including those applied in the CCAR. According to the Fed’s press release, the qualitative and quantitative evaluations will be used to evaluate a bank’s ability to survive in times of economic stress and are broken into three scenarios with varying degrees of stress: baseline, adverse and severely adverse. The Fed reminded participating banks that capital plan and stress testing submissions are due by April 5.
The same day, the OCC issued its own stress testing scenarios for required OCC-supervised institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, and on February 2, the OCC released a notice and request for comments (notice) on revised templates to be used for stress test exercises performed by covered institutions with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more. According to the notice, revisions would reduce the number of data items in the Supplemental Schedule by approximately half, and include (i) the elimination of two reporting schedules—the Regulatory Capital Transitions Schedule and the Retail Repurchase Exposures Schedule; (ii) the addition of new criteria for institutions subject to the global market shock evaluation; and (iii) clarification on how “Credit Loss Portion” and “Non-Credit Loss Portion” are reported in the summary schedule worksheets. Furthermore, under the revisions, savings associations would be eligible to use the simplified reporting requirements already available to other large, non-complex holding companies. The notice was published in the Federal Register on February 2 and comments are due by March 5.
Additionally, on February 6, the FDIC released economic scenarios developed in coordination with the Fed and the OCC for certain supervised financial institutions. According to the FDIC, the scenarios “include key variables that reflect economic activity, including unemployment, exchange rates, prices, income, interest rates, and other salient aspects of the economy and financial markets.”
On January 8, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published an updated set of questions and answers to assist financial institutions in complying with the Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress tests (DFAST) and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). According to the Fed, the FAQs are designed to provide answers concerning DFAST and CCAR reporting requirements and related guidance, and generally cover applicable questions that have been asked by covered financial institutions since August 1, 2017. The Fed instructs financial institutions that CCAR projections should only reflect new accounting standards if the standards were implemented prior to December 31 of the previous calendar year. For material business changes occurring in the fourth quarter of a year, financial institutions should discuss any changes that may materially impact the institution’s capital adequacy and funding profile in their CCAR filings. The Fed will review the information when making modelling projections and may request additional information. The Fed also explains the circumstances in which a bank is required to issue replacement capital to stay in compliance with its capital plan.
Federal Reserve Requests Comments on Proposals Seeking Transparency Increases in Stress Testing Programs
The Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued a request for comments on three proposals designed to increase stress testing transparency while also testing the resiliency of large, complex banks. Earlier in June, Fed Chair Janet Yellen underscored the Fed’s understanding of the need to provide transparency in its Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) process and stress test scenarios. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) The first December 7 proposal, “Enhanced Disclosure of the Models Used in the Federal Reserve’s Supervisory Stress Test,” announces the Fed’s plans to publically release, for the first time, information concerning the models and methodologies used during supervisory stress tests, including those applied in the CCAR, including:
- “enhanced descriptions of supervisory models, including key variables;”
- “modeled loss rates on loans grouped by important risk characteristics and summary statistics associated with the loans in each group;” and,
- “portfolios of hypothetical loans and the estimated loss rates associated with the loans in each portfolio.”
The information will offer banks expanded details as to how the Fed’s models treat different types of loans under stress, along with insight into the determination of annual stress test results.
The second request for comments concerns the “Stress Testing Policy Statement,” which elaborates on prior disclosures and outlines details on the principles and policies that govern the Fed’s development, implementation, and validation of its stress testing models.
Finally, the Fed issued a proposed policy statement to request comments on introduced amendments to the design of its annual hypothetical economic scenarios framework. The “Amendments to Policy Statement on the Scenario Design Framework for Stress Testing” is intended to enhance transparency and provide clarification on hypothetical economic scenarios, including the direction of housing prices, as well as the Fed’s commitment to exploring additional variables to test for funding risks.
All comments must be received by January 22, 2018.
On October 27, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) issued proposed changes to its “stress test” rules for covered financial institutions required by the Dodd-Frank Act. Specifically, the proposal would, (i) extend the window by three months to allow the OCC to choose an appropriate “as-of” date in the trading and counterparty default component of the stress test (intended to conform with recent rule changes by the Federal Reserve); and (ii) extend the transition process for certain banks and savings associations that cross the $50 billion asset threshold before stress testing requirements are applicable.
Comments for the proposed changes must be received on or before December 26.
In addition to this proposal, on October 6, the Fed, FDIC, and the OCC, issued a joint notice and request for comment, which proposes to combine the agencies’ three separate, identical stress test report forms into a single new Federal Financial Institutional Examination Council (FFIEC) report (FFIEC 016) under the Dodd-Frank Act (previously covered by InfoBytes here).
Senate Banking Committee Seeks Perspectives of Midsized, Regional, and Large Institutions, Regulators on Economic Growth
On June 15, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Committee) held a hearing entitled, “Fostering Economic Growth: Midsized, Regional and Large Institution Perspective”. This is the third in a series of hearings to address economic growth. Frequent topics of discussion in the hearing included stress testing and capital planning—specifically the Federal Reserve’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review stress test. Also discussed was the Systemically Important Financial Institution designation and costs incurred as a result, as well as the Volcker Rule.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Committee, remarked in his opening statement that the current regulatory framework is “insufficiently tailored for many of the firms subject to it.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) – ranking member of the Committee—released an opening statement in which he stated “Let me be clear: proposals to weaken oversight of the biggest banks have no place in this committee’s process. . . Having said that, I am optimistic that there is room for agreement on a modified regime for overseeing regional banks.”
The June 15 hearing—a video of which can be accessed here—included testimony from the following witnesses:
- Mr. Harris Simmons, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Zions Bancorporation, on behalf of the Regional Bank Coalition (prepared statement)
- Mr. Greg Baer, President of The Clearing House Association (prepared statement)
- Mr. Robert Hill, Chief Executive Officer of South State Corporation, on behalf of the Midsize Bank Coalition of America (prepared statement)
- Ms. Saule Omarova, Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School (prepared statement)
On June 22, the Senate Banking Committee held another hearing entitled “Fostering Economic Growth: Regulator Perspective, the fourth in its series of hearings focusing on economic growth. The hearing is available via webcast here.
On June 16, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen sent a letter to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) underscoring the Fed’s understanding of the need to provide transparency in its Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) process and stress test scenarios. The Fed, Yellen asserts, will continue to published CCAR instructions in advance of the submission date for capital plans. Yellen further committed to releasing instructions and scenarios for the stress tests by February 15. The guidance will offer banks more details about the qualitative and quantitative components of the exam. However, Yellen warned that disclosing all the details of the Fed's modeling on the annual exams “would give banks an incentive to adjust their business practices in ways that change the results of the stress test without changing the risks faced by the firms . . . [resulting in] less effective stress tests that present a misleading picture of the actual vulnerabilities faced by firms. There would also be a risk of increased correlations in asset holdings among large banks, making the financial system more vulnerable to adverse economic shocks.” However, Yellen said the Fed is weighing different approaches to provide banks with more information about the agency's modeling.
On February 3, the Fed announced the release of the “Supervisory Scenarios” to be used by banks and supervisors for the 2017 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) and Dodd-Frank Act stress test exercises and also issued instructions to firms participating in CCAR. The Fed also published three letters that provide additional information on its stress-testing program. The three letters describe: (i) the Horizontal Capital Review for large, noncomplex companies; (ii) the CCAR qualitative assessment for U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banks, which are submitting capital plans for the first time; and (iii) improvements to how the Fed will estimate post-stress capital ratios.
On February 3, the OCC similarly released economic and financial market scenarios for 2017 that are to be used by national banks and federal savings associations (with total consolidated assets of more than $10 billion) in their annual Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress test. On February 6, the FDIC released its stress test scenarios, working in consultation with the Fed and OCC.
The three sets of supervisory scenarios provide each agency with forward-looking information for use in bank supervision and will assist the agencies in assessing the covered institutions’ risk profile and capital adequacy.
On January 30, the Fed issued a finalized version of its rule aimed at simplifying the Fed’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR or “stress test”) by exempting all but the largest financial institutions from the qualitative assessment portion of the Fed’s stress test. The changes will apply to the 2017 CCAR cycle, which began on January 1, 2017.
Specifically, the new rule provides that “large and noncomplex firms”—those with total consolidated assets of at least $50 billion but less than $250 billion, and nonbank assets of less than $75 billion (and that are not U.S. global-systemically important banks)—will no longer be subject to the provisions allowing the Fed to object to a bank’s capital adequacy plan based on an evaluation of hypothetical scenarios of severe economic and financial market stress, known as a “qualitative assessment.” Previously, the Board could object to the annual capital plan of any bank subject to stress testing, based on the quantitative or qualitative findings of the exercise. However, the rule also decreases the amount of additional capital exempted banks can distribute to shareholders in connection with a capital plan without seeking prior approval from the Fed, now 0.25 percent of tier 1 capital down from 1 percent.
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