Big banks get reprieve from FDIC

December 15, 2009

Due to new accounting rules — FAS 166 and 167 — banks have to bring certain off balance sheet assets back onto their balance sheets starting next year. More assets, same capital = lower capital ratios. (More in this column about the individual impact on the large banks).

Anyway, the FDIC has agreed to give big banks a 6 month reprieve on raising new capital to buffer the new assets. From Ian Katz at Bloomberg:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. gave banks including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. a reprieve of at least six months from raising capital to support billions of dollars of securities the firms will be adding to their balance sheets.Bank regulators including the FDIC and Federal Reserve want to permit a phase-in of capital requirements that rise starting next month under a change approved by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. The rule, passed in May, eliminates some off- balance-sheet trusts, forcing banks to put billions of dollars of assets and liabilities on their books.

“We’re still recovering from the damage these structures caused,” FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said, explaining that the entities contributed to the financial crisis. The phase-in recognizes the “very fragile stage in our economic recovery,” she said at a board meeting Washington.

While Citi and Wells were raising capital this week to repay TARP, FDIC should have had them go for a few billion more to offset the impact of FAS 166/7.

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