Fed to Sunset Coronavirus-Related Suspension of Bank-Capital Rule

Banks can no longer exempt Fed reserves and Treasurys from their leverage ratios.

AccessTimeIconMar 19, 2021 at 3:19 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:29 p.m. UTC
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The U.S. Federal Reserve announced Friday it will allow the expiration of an emergency suspension on certain bank-capital rules. The temporary measure was enacted last year when the coronavirus hit. 

The Fed had been letting banks exclude cash and government bonds on their balance sheet when calculating their Supplementary Leverage Ratios (SLR), a gauge of capital adequacy. That rule will not be extended and will expire at the end of March, the Fed said in a statement.

The Fed added that it would “seek comment” on adjusting the SLR exemption and will take action to make sure that the changes “don’t erode the overall strength of bank capital requirements.” In April 2020, the exemption allowed banks to support the Treasury market, and expand the size of their balance sheets.

The Fed's announcement "is causing a dollar pop and a bit of a dump in risk assets as it reduces bank liquidity," CrossTower Head of Trading Chad Steinglass said in an emailed statement.

Bitcoin, while often cast by cryptocurrency analysts as a potential hedge against inflation, is still considered by many Wall Street investors to be a risky asset, and it often ends up trading in sync with stocks rather than safer plays like bonds.

Prices for bitcoin briefly retreated early Friday as the decision was announced but have since recovered. As of 15:18 UTC (11:18 a.m. ET), the largest cryptocurrency was changing hands at $58,884.

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