Senate Votes to Impose Leverage and Risk-Based Capital Requirements

As Congress continues to work through a growing list of amendments to S 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Senators approved on Thursday a measure to impose minimum leverage and capital requirements on both banks and nonbank financial firms. Senators unanimously consented to an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), that mandates minimum leverage and risk-based capital requirements for insured depository institutions, depository institution holding companies, and nonbank financial companies under Federal Reserve supervision. “This amendment strengthens the economic foundation of these firms, increases oversight and accountability, and helps prevent the excesses that contributed to the deep recession that has cost millions of Americans their jobs,” Collins said in a statement. “Increasing capital requirements as firms grow provides a disincentive to their becoming ‘too big to fail’ and ensures an adequate capital cushion in difficult economic times.” The Collins amendment requires regulators to adjust capital standards for risk factors as financial institutions grow in size or engage in risky practices. The amendment directs the regulators to use a ratio of Tier 1 capital to risk-adjusted assets. The amendment joins a handful of others approved this week — including provisions to assign credit-rating agencies to deals, exempt qualifying mortgages from credit risk retention requirements, require lenders to maintain certain underwriting standards and call for a one-time audit of emergency lending actions at the Fed. Write to Diana Golobay.

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