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Major US banks would withstand recession: Federal Reserve

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The largest US banks would withstand a severe recession and still be able to lend to American households and businesses, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday.

[WASHINGTON] The largest US banks would withstand a severe recession and still be able to lend to American households and businesses, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday.

The results of the central bank's so-called stress tests showed 34 major lenders were on solid capital footing, it said.

"This year's results show that, even during a severe recession, our large banks would remain well capitalised," Fed Governor Jerome Powell said in a statement.

"This would allow them to lend throughout the economic cycle, and support households and businesses when times are tough."

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The results portrayed a picture of increasing resilience in the banking sector, with the 34 participating firms having added US$750 billion in common equity capital since 2009.

The most severe hypothetical scenario imposed by the Fed supposed a global economic downturn even worse than the recent Great Recession.

US unemployment would rise to 10 per cent, accompanied by a 35 per cent drop in commercial real estate prices and pressures on corporate loan markets as well.

In this scenario, loan losses would amount to US$383 billion over nine quarters. The ratio of capital, which allows lenders to absorb losses, to risk-weighted assets would drop from 12.5 per cent to 9.2 per cent.

The tested banks included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Chase and the Deutsche Bank Trust Corp, a US unit of the troubled German financial giant.

The participating banks represent more than 75 per cent of the assets of all domestic bank holding companies, according to the Fed.

In the second step of the annual stress tests, next week the capital strengths of the individual banks will be weighed against their capital plans - whether they would remain adequately strong after planned dividend distributions and share buybacks.

In the past, some banks have been forced to reel back those plans in order to further build capital strength.

Thursday's results also presented the outcome of a less severe "adverse" scenario in which participants' capital ratios only fell to 10.7 per cent.

The stress tests are conducted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform laws, which Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, which President Donald Trump's administration has vowed to scale back.

Mr Powell said this week the Fed would be open to reasonable changes to the law, including the threshold for including banks in the stress tests.

AFP

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