- Survivors pulled from Oklahoma tornado debris as toll falls |
- Analysis: Some Republicans see new scandal in Sebelius fundraising
- Convicted U.S. killer Arias would join tiny death row group
- Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated -USGS
- Israel fires back at Syria after gunshots at its troops
A huge tornado tears through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, killing dozens. Slideshow
SCENARIOS: After stress tests, what next for U.S. banks?
(Reuters) - U.S. regulators and the nation's largest banks have nearly completed "stress tests" to determine how well the lenders would fare if the recession proves to be deeper and longer than expected.
Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America MetLife Inc and GMAC are among the 19 lenders under scrutiny who may get government help to strengthen their balance sheets following the May 4 announcement of the results.
On Friday, officials will release a document explaining the underlying stress testing assumptions and how to interpret the results. Regulators are expected to take care that test results do not put weaker banks into a tailspin, but may set some tough requirements on how the banks should rebuild.
Below are the government's options to help restore the banks to health:
SELL ASSETS TO A GOVERNMENT FUND
Banks will be encouraged to sell failing investments under a new public-private investment program the U.S. Treasury Department hopes to have up and running within the next couple of months. If banks were to unload these hard-to-price assets, it should be easier for them to attract fresh private capital. Treasury has promised to make a preliminary decision by May 15 on who will run the new investment funds.
RAISE CAPITAL IN THE PRIVATE MARKETS
Officials may also order banks found to be undercapitalized to raise new funds. By selling stock, banks will add ballast to their balance sheet. A troubled bank will technically have six months to fill any capital hole as defined by regulators but may be steered toward government capital sooner.
RAISE CAPITAL THROUGH GOVERNMENT INVESTMENTS
Undercapitalized banks would have the option of turning to the government for investment immediately or later if they have trouble raising private capital. Washington's previous bank investments came with strings attached, like limits on executive pay. The capital infusions would be in the form of preferred securities that could convert to common equity at the issuer's option, subject to approval by their regulator.
CONVERT GOVERNMENT'S PREFERRED STAKES
If the stress tests show that the top banks have a capital need that exceeds the amount left in the $700 billion market rescue fund, the government could seek to convert its existing preferred stakes to common equity as a low-cost way to boost the banks' capital levels. Treasury has said it is open to considering that option if a bank's regulator deems it would be best for the long-term stability of that institution.
If a bank was in desperate need of capital and in danger of failing, officials could take other measures to prevent a systemically important firm from causing widespread disruption. The Obama administration wants Congress to give the government the ability to take control of large, interconnected financial firms to wind them down. The proposed legislation would also give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp the power to make loans to a troubled bank while keeping it open, buy a stake in the firm, assume obligations, take a lien on the firm's assets, or sell off the firm's assets.
Banks that are found to have performed well under the stress test conditions may get put on a path to repay the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Administration officials have told the top banks that they do not want the banks to pay back the funds until they can demonstrate that doing so will not constrain their lending activities. To repay the funds, a bank has to get the green light from its primary regulators. Treasury also has the power to write the terms of the repayment, according to legislation passed in February.
(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski and Patrick Rucker; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this