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On August 10, FHFA published the Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests Results – Severely Adverse Scenario containing the results of the ninth annual stress tests conducted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. Last year, FHFA published orders for the GSEs to conduct a stress test with specific scenarios to determine whether companies have the capital necessary to absorb losses as a result of severely adverse economic conditions (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the report, the total comprehensive income loss is between $8.4 billion and $9.9 billion depending on how deferred tax assets are treated. Notably, compared to last year, the severely adverse scenario includes a larger increase in the unemployment rate due to the lower unemployment rate at the beginning of the planning horizon. FHFA also expanded the scope of entities considered within the primary counterparty default component of the worldwide market shock. This expansion encompasses mortgage insurers, unsecured overnight deposits, providers of multifamily credit enhancements, nonbank servicers, and credit risk transfer reinsurance counterparties.
On February 9, the Federal Reserve Board and the OCC released hypothetical economic scenarios for use in the upcoming stress tests for covered institutions. The Fed released supervisory scenarios, which include baseline and severely adverse scenarios. According to the Fed, the stress test evaluates large banks’ resiliency by estimating losses, net revenue, and capital levels under hypothetical recession scenarios that extend two years into the future. The Fed’s stress test also features for the first time “an additional exploratory market shock to the trading books of the largest and most complex banks” to help the agency better assess the potential of multiple scenarios in order to capture a wider array of risks in future stress test exercises. The OCC also released the agency’s scenarios for covered banks and savings associations, which will be used during supervision and will assist in the assessment of a covered institution’s risk profile and capital adequacy.
On December 1, Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair for Supervision Michael S. Barr signaled changes may be coming to the supervisory stress test standards for large banks, as the Fed evaluates whether the test used to set capital requirements reflects an appropriately wide range of risks. Speaking during an American Enterprise Institute event, Barr commented that the Fed is also “considering the potential for stress testing to be a tool to explore different sources of financial stress and uncover channels for contagion that lead to unanticipated consequences.” He added that the use of “multiple scenarios or adapting the stress test in other ways to better account for the high degree of interconnectedness between banks and other financial entities could allow supervisors and banks to identify those conditions and take action to address them.” Financial stability risks posed by the nonbank sector are also a strong concern for regulators, Barr said, commenting that many of these firms are undercapitalized and engage in high-risk activities. He stressed that the migration of activities from banks to nonbanks should be monitored carefully, and cautioned against lowering bank capital requirements “in a race to the bottom,” particularly since nonbank financial market stress is often directly and indirectly transmitted to the banking system. Banks must have sufficient capital to remain resilient to those stresses, Barr said.
On March 16, FHFA published orders applicable March 10 for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) with respect to stress test reporting as of December 31, 2021, under Dodd-Frank as amended by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Under Dodd-Frank, certain federally regulated financial companies with total consolidated assets of more than $250 billion are required to conduct periodic stress tests to determine whether the companies have the capital necessary to absorb losses as a result of severely adverse economic conditions. The orders are accompanied by Summary Instructions and Guidance, which include stress test scenarios and revised templates (baseline, severely adverse, and variables and assumptions) for regulated companies to use when reporting the results of the stress tests (orders and instructions are available here). According to the Summary Instructions and Guidance, the GSEs have until May 20 to submit baseline and severely adverse results to FHFA and the Federal Reserve Board, and must publicly disclose a summary of severely adverse results between August 1 and 15.
Recently, the FDIC, Fed, and OCC released the hypothetical economic scenarios for use in the upcoming stress tests for covered institutions. The FDIC released supervisory scenarios, which include baseline and severely adverse scenarios. According to the FDIC, “[t]he baseline scenario is in line with a survey of private sector economic forecasters” while the “severely adverse scenario” is a “hypothetical scenario designed to assess the strength and resilience of financial institutions.” Likewise, the Fed released the results of its supervisory Dodd-Frank bank stress tests conducted on 34 large banks, which collectively hold 70 percent of bank assets in the U.S. The two scenarios, baseline and severely adverse, include 28 variables, such as GDP, unemployment rate, stock market prices, and mortgage rate. In the 2022 stress test scenario, the U.S. unemployment rate rises nearly 6 points to a peak of 10 percent over two years. The large increase in the unemployment rate is accompanied by a 40 percent decrease in commercial real estate prices, broadening corporate bond spreads, and a collapse in asset prices, including increased market volatility. The OCC also released the agency’s scenarios for banks and savings associations currently subject to Dodd-Frank stress tests.
On March 25, the Federal Reserve Board announced that measures previously instituted to ensure that large banks maintain a high level of capital resilience in light of uncertainty introduced by the Covid-19 pandemic would expire for most banks after June 30. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Fed’s measures prohibited large banks from making share repurchases and capped dividend payments. The Fed most recently advised that “[i]f a bank remains above all of its minimum risk-based capital requirements in this year’s stress test, the additional restrictions will end after June 30 and it will be subject to the [stress capital buffer]’s normal restrictions.” Banks whose capital levels fall below required levels in the stress tests will remain subject to the restrictions through September 30. Further, banks still below the capital required by the stress test at that time will face even stricter distribution limitations.
On January 19, the Federal Reserve Board adopted a final rule updating the agency’s capital planning and stress testing requirements applicable to large bank holding companies and U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations. Among other things, the final rule, which is generally similar to the Fed’s September 2020 notice of proposed rulemaking (covered by InfoBytes here), conforms the capital planning, regulatory reporting, and stress capital buffer requirements for firms with $100 billion or more in total assets (Category IV) with the tailored regulatory framework approved by the Fed in 2019 (covered by InfoBytes here). The final rule also makes additional changes to the Fed’s stress testing rules, stress testing policy statement, and regulatory reporting requirements related to “business plan changes and capital actions and the publication of company-run stress test results for savings and loan holding companies.” In addition, the Fed’s capital planning and stress capital buffer requirements will now apply to covered saving and loan holding companies subject to Category II, III, and IV standards under the tailoring framework. The Fed notes that firms in the lowest risk category are on a two-year stress test cycle and will not be subject to company-run stress test requirements. The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On September 30, the Federal Reserve Board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to tailor the requirements in the Fed’s capital plan rule applicable to large bank holding companies and U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations. The changes would conform the capital planning, regulatory reporting, and stress capital buffer requirements for firms with $100 billion or more in total assets (Category IV) with the tailored regulatory framework approved by the Fed last October (covered by InfoBytes here). The NPRM would also make additional changes to the Fed’s stress testing rules, stress testing policy statement, and regulatory reporting requirements related to “business plan change assumptions, capital action assumptions, and the publication of company-run stress test results for savings and loan holding companies” to be consistent with a final rule issued last year that amended resolution planning requirements for large domestic and foreign firms (covered by InfoBytes here). These changes include removing company-run stress test requirements and implementing biennial, rather than annual, supervisory stress tests for firms subject to Category IV standards. Additionally, the Fed seeks comments on its existing capital planning guidance for firms of all sizes. Notably, the Fed states that the NPRM would not affect the calculation of firms’ capital requirements. Comments on the NPRM are due November 20.
On July 8, the Federal Reserve announced revisions to its Capital Assessments and Stress Testing Reports, Form FR Y-14A/Q/M; OMB No. 7100-0341. The temporary revisions implement changes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the incorporation of data related to certain aspects of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, and Federal Reserve lending facilities. The changes apply to reports beginning with July 31, 2020, or September 30, 2020, as-of dates. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has temporarily revised the submission frequency of FR Y–14Q, Schedule H (Wholesale) from a quarterly basis to a monthly basis for Category I–III firms, effective July 31, 2020.
On June 25, the Federal Reserve Board released the results of the Dodd-Frank Act stress tests for 2020 (DFAST 2020) and another report analyzing additional sensitivities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The additional sensitivities report assessed the resiliency of large banks under three hypothetical recessions, which could result from the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, under the hypothetical scenarios, loan losses for the 34 banks ranged from $560 billion to $700 billion in the sensitivity analysis, and aggregate capital ratios declined from 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to between 9.5 percent and 7.7 percent. The Fed concludes that due to strong current capital levels, “the large majority of banks remain sufficiently capitalized over the entirety of the projection horizon in all scenarios.” The Fed notes that this analysis did not incorporate the effects of government stimulus payments or expanded unemployment insurance. In response to the results, the Fed notes that all large banks are now required to, among other things, resubmit their capital plans later this year to reflect the current stresses, and the Fed intends to conduct additional analysis each quarter to determine if other response adjustments are needed.
Additionally, the results of the full DFAST 2020—which was designed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic—suggest that the 33 banks subject to the test would “experience substantial losses under the severely adverse scenario but could continue lending to businesses and households, due to the substantial buildup of capital since the financial crisis.”