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U.S. bank regulators considering tougher rules for banks over $100 billion in size


By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The heads of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and the Federal Reserve on Thursday said bank regulators were considering expanding the reach of a stricter set of capital rules to include banks with over $100 billion in assets.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a speech in the spring turmoil in the banking sector showed firms of that size pose a risk to the financial system and merit stricter oversight. Three banks failed during the spring, requiring regulators to step in and backstop deposits.

“If we had any doubt that the failure of banks in this size category can have financial stability consequences, that has been answered by recent experience,” he said in prepared remarks. “The lesson to take away is that banks in this size category can pose genuine financial stability risks.”

He was echoed later Thursday by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who told Congress that some rules in an upcoming proposal to implement international banking standards could apply to lenders around the $100 billion mark.

However, he added he expected the bulk of the new requirements would be reserved for the largest global banks.

It was not yet clear which of the proposed rules would apply to the smaller banks.

Both said they expected such a proposal to be unveiled relatively soon. Gruenberg added the agencies will likely not complete the rules before the middle of 2024

Powell also added that agencies were closely monitoring banks with heavy exposure to commercial real estate and working with them to manage their risks, as persistent office vacancies weigh on borrowers.

The so-called international Basel III “endgame” rules are already a focus of intense criticism by the banking industry, which is arguing that overly strict requirements could hinder lending and the broader economy.

But Gruenberg argued it was critical for regulators to get tougher.

The Financial Services Forum, which represents large global banks, quickly pushed back.

“The largest banks are already more than amply capitalized and have used their strength to support both the banking system and the overall economy during periods of stress,” said Kevin Fromer, the group’s CEO.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, Editing by Nick Zieminski and Diane Craft)

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