Some bankers sing this morning instead of ‘Purple Rain, Purple Rain’ – “Margin call, Margin call!”images

Last week’s biggest news is not the Nonfarm Payrolls, or the European Central Bank or even Portugal’s government falling. No – the big deal is the openness with which the Federal Reserve is preparing a major margin call on the too-big-to-fail banks in the US.

This has been a long time coming since the introduction of the Dodd-Frank law back in 2010 but it is a game changer. Remember all macro paradigm shifts come from policy impulses, often mistakes.

Fed approves step one in a three-step plan:  

Under the final rule, minimum requirements will increase for both the quantity and quality of capital held by banking organisations. Consistent with the international Basel framework, the rule includes a new minimum ratio of common equity tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of 4.5 percent and a common equity tier 1 capital conservation buffer of 2.5 percent of risk-weighted assets that will apply to all supervised financial institutions. The rule also raises the minimum ratio of tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets from four percent to six percent and includes a minimum leverage ratio of four percent for all banking organisations. In addition, for the largest, most internationally-active banking organisations, the final rule includes a new minimum supplementary leverage ratio that takes into account off-balance sheet exposures.

I know you are thinking: Wow, this is the most interesting thing I have seen in years 🙂 but alas it is – because it is in fact a major margin call on the US holding banks.

Note how this adoption is only the first set of a series of new rules. Let me introduce you to: Daniel Tarullo, The Federal Reserve Governor in charge of regulation after the implementation of the Dodd-Frank law in 2010. (As a consequence of Dodd-Frank, the Fed got a permanent regulatory governor.)

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