Some of the leading banks in the United States have been ordered to find tens of billions of dollars to cushion themselves in case the recession worsens.
Regulators have been poring over the books of the biggest banking institutions in the country, in so-called “stress tests.” The Bank of America has the largest need, accounting for nearly half the combined figure that ten top banks must come up with. But, while that overall total is equivalent to 55 billion euros, the shortfall is smaller than some analysts forecast. Hence, optimism that banking can benefit from a new wave of confidence. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said: “These actions are critical to help get lending flowing again, to make sure that there is going to be the credit necessary to help support recovery, help this economy get back on track. These actions today are going to bring an unprecedented level of transparency and clarity to the health of the nation’s banking system. They are going to replace this deep cloud of uncertainty over the system, again, with more disclosure and with more certainty. That is going to make it easier for private capital to come in to the financial system, help expand the capacity of banks to lend, help banks replace the government’s investments with private capital as soon as possible.” Following the tests carried out by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, authorities hope the capital holes can be filled from private sources. If not, taxpayers’ money may have to be used. Either way, the countdown is on. Banks told to build a capital cushion have until June 8 to develop a detailed plan and November 9 to implement it.