Report: Banks Float Industry-Led Crisis Plan to Federal Reserve

Pushing back against efforts to break up some of the largest financial institutions, U.S. banks reportedly presented the Federal Reserve with a “bail-in” plan for a restructuring in the event of another crisis.

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The talks come amid a renewed debate over how best to minimize the fallout from a banking disaster following the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

While the Fed favors making banks hold extra capital and issue more debt, some U.S. lawmakers and European regulators have pushed to downsize too-big-to-fail global banks.

The proposal by U.S. banks calls for the largest financial-services holding companies to hold a certain amount of debt and equity that would be used to support failed banking subsidiaries that are seized by regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some of these banks would need to issue expensive long-term debt.

Conceding to pressure from the Fed, the banks said they would each agree to hold combined debt and equity equal to 14% of their risk-weighted assets, while the top six U.S. banks could need to raise that ratio as high as 15% to 16.5% due to global guidelines, the Journal reported.

Such a move would shift the financial burden of a bailout from taxpayers, like in the 2008 banking rescues, to creditors.

The private meeting was held in Washington on May 22 between the Fed, banking trade group the Clearing House and execs from several top U.S. banks, including Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C), the paper said.

Earlier this year, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and David Vitter (R–LA) introduced a bill that would require banks like J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) that have more than $500 billion in assets to ratchet their capital reserves to 15%.

Analysts have estimated such a move would force U.S. banks to raise $1 trillion or more to comply.