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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FHFA proposes stress testing amendments

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHFA Stress Test EGRRCPA Fannie Mae Freddie Mac

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On December 16, the FHFA released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the stress testing requirements for Federal Home Loan Banks (FHL Banks), consistent with changes made by Section 401 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act). Specifically, the NPRM will (i) increase the minimum threshold for regulated entities to conduct stress tests from $10 billion to $250 billion in total consolidated assets; (ii) remove the requirements for FHL Banks subject to stress testing, as none of the banks meet the minimum threshold (notably, under the proposal, the Director will maintain the ability to require any regulated entity with assets below the minimum threshold to conduct stress tests at his or her discretion); and (iii) reduce the number of stress test scenarios from three to two by removing the “adverse” scenario. According to the FHFA, while the “adverse” scenario provides value in limited circumstances, “the ‘baseline’ and ‘severely adverse’ scenarios largely cover the full range of expected and stressful conditions.” As such, the FHFA believes removing the “adverse” scenario will reduce the supervisory burden for FHL Banks. The FHFA further proposes that the Enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)—who remain subject to stress testing under the NPRM—be required to conduct stress tests on an annual basis, as Section 401 changed the required frequency from “annual” to “periodic,” but did not define the term “periodic” in the Act.

Comments on the NPRM are due January 13, 2020.