UPDATE 1-NY Fed says not mulling new primary dealer rules
* NY Fed not considering raising capital requirements
* Questions about standards arose after MF Global failure
By Emily Flitter
NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Despite questions it has faced in the wake of MF Global's failure, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York doesn't have any plans to change its standards for primary dealers, a spokesman for the bank said on Thursday.
"While the New York Fed regularly reviews its policies and practices, we are not currently considering raising capital requirements for primary dealers," the spokesman said in a statement to Reuters.
Primary dealers are the banks and securities firms authorized to deal directly with the government to help carry out monetary policy and distribute U.S. debt. The New York Fed oversees applications for primary dealer status.
The Oct. 31 bankruptcy of the broker-dealer MF Global , which had primary dealer status, led some to wonder whether the New York Fed was holding primary dealers to a high-enough standard. Primary dealer status is seen among many on Wall Street as a stamp of approval from the Fed, although a statement on the New York Fed's website says it is not.
Primary dealer status "in no way constitutes a public endorsement of that entity by the New York Fed, nor should such designation be viewed as a replacement for prudent counterparty risk management and due diligence," the statement reads.
The New York Fed tightened its requirements for primary dealer applicants in early 2010. The new application rules said dealers seeking primary dealer status needed to hold at least $150 million in net capital.
Before the change, applicants needed at least $50 million in net capital.
In 2008, the New York Fed lost several primary dealers, including Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Countrywide, all casualties of the financial crisis. MF Global's disappearance from the primary dealer list, which now consists of 21 dealers, is the first primary dealer bankruptcy since Lehman's.
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