Regulators ease key bank rule to spur credit
BASEL, Switzerland/LONDON Jan 6 (Reuters) - Global regulators have given banks more time to build up cash buffers so they can divert some of their reserves to helping struggling economies grow.
Banks had complained they could not meet the January 2015 deadline to comply with a new global rule on minimum holdings of easily sellable assets from the Basel Committee of banking supervisors and supply credit to businesses and consumers.
The committee's oversight body agreed on Sunday to phase-in the rule from 2015 over four years and widen the range of assets banks can put in the buffer to include shares and mortgage-backed securities.
"For the first time in regulatory history, we have a truly global minimum standard for bank liquidity," the oversight body's chairman Mervyn King told a news conference in Basel, Switzerland.
"Importantly, introducing a phased timetable for the introduction of the liquidity coverage ratio ... will ensure that the new liquidity standard will in no way hinder the ability of the global banking system to finance a recovery," said King, who is also Bank of England governor.
The rule requires banks to hold enough liquid assets like government and corporate bonds to cover net ouflows for up to a month to avoid taxpayers having to bail them out.
The Basel Committee also agreed to ease the "stress scenario" for calculating the amount of liquid assets banks must hold, meaning the buffer would be smaller.
Under the Basel regime, the rules would run alongside separate rules governing banks' capital, intended to ensure their longer-term stability.
Banks would start complying in 2015 when they are expected to hold at least 60 percent of the total buffer, building up to 100 percent by January 2019, when Basel's separate, tougher bank capital requirements also must be met in full.
The liquidity rule is meant to avoid a repeat of how a short-term funding freeze brought down lenders like Britain's Northern Rock early on in the 2007-09 financial crisis.
It is part of the Basel III bank capital and liquidity accord agreed by world leaders in 2010 and being phased in over six years from this month, though there are delays in the United States and European Union.