It’s here, finally. With a minimum bank capital ratio of 7 per cent.
The world’s central bankers and regulators confirmed new capital and liquidity standards for the banking system on Sunday.
Here are the all-important details on both the reforms’ substance and their implementation dates, via the Basel Committee release.
First — a Core Tier 1 capital ratio of 4.5 per cent, broadening to overall Tier 1 capital of 6 per cent:
Under the agreements reached today, the minimum requirement for common equity, the highest form of loss absorbing capital, will be raised from the current 2% level, before the application of regulatory adjustments, to 4.5% after the application of stricter adjustments. This will be phased in by 1 January 2015. The Tier 1 capital requirement, which includes common equity and other qualifying financial instruments based on stricter criteria, will increase from 4% to 6% over the same period. (Annex 1 summarises the new capital requirements.)
This will begin implementation from 2013 to 2018:
National implementation by member countries will begin on 1 January 2013. Member countries must translate the rules into national laws and regulations before this date. As of 1 January 2013, banks will be required to meet the following new minimum requirements in relation to risk-weighted assets (RWAs):
- 3.5% common equity/RWAs;
- 4.5% Tier 1 capital/RWAs, and
- 8.0% total capital/RWAs.
The minimum common equity and Tier 1 requirements will be phased in between 1 January 2013 and 1 January 2015. On 1 January 2013, the minimum common equity requirement will rise from the current 2% level to 3.5%. The Tier 1 capital requirement will rise from 4% to 4.5%. On 1 January 2014, banks will have to meet a 4% minimum common equity requirement and a Tier 1 requirement of 5.5%. On 1 January 2015, banks will have to meet the 4.5% common equity and the 6% Tier 1 requirements. The total capital requirement remains at the existing level of 8.0% and so does not need to be phased in. The difference between the total capital requirement of 8.0% and the Tier 1 requirement can be met with Tier 2 and higher forms of capital.
Click to enlarge these two charts from the BIS that illustrate the new agreement:
This includes a complex set of deductions from allowable capital, to be phased in by regulators:
The regulatory adjustments (ie deductions and prudential filters), including amounts above the aggregate 15% limit for investments in financial institutions, mortgage servicing rights, and deferred tax assets from timing differences, would be fully deducted from common equity by 1 January 2018.
In particular, the regulatory adjustments will begin at 20% of the required deductions from common equity on 1 January 2014, 40% on 1 January 2015, 60% on 1 January 2016, 80% on 1 January 2017, and reach 100% on 1 January 2018. During this transition period, the remainder not deducted from common equity will continue to be subject to existing national treatments.
Capital conservation buffer
Next, details on the capital conservation buffer on top of Tier 1 capital:
The Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision also agreed that the capital conservation buffer above the regulatory minimum requirement be calibrated at 2.5% and be met with common equity, after the application of deductions. The purpose of the conservation buffer is to ensure that banks maintain a buffer of capital that can be used to absorb losses during periods of financial and economic stress. While banks are allowed to draw on the buffer during such periods of stress, the closer their regulatory capital ratios approach the minimum requirement, the greater the constraints on earnings distributions. This framework will reinforce the objective of sound supervision and bank governance and address the collective action problem that has prevented some banks from curtailing distributions such as discretionary bonuses and high dividends, even in the face of deteriorating capital positions.
That takes banks’ minimum regulatory capital to 7 per cent. The conservation buffer will be implemented no later than 2019:
The capital conservation buffer will be phased in between 1 January 2016 and year end 2018 becoming fully effective on 1 January 2019. It will begin at 0.625% of RWAs on 1 January 2016 and increase each subsequent year by an additional 0.625 percentage points, to reach its final level of 2.5% of RWAs on 1 January 2019. Countries that experience excessive credit growth should consider accelerating the build up of the capital conservation buffer and the countercyclical buffer. National authorities have the discretion to impose shorter transition periods and should do so where appropriate.
Banks that already meet the minimum ratio requirement during the transition period but remain below the 7% common equity target (minimum plus conservation buffer) should maintain prudent earnings retention policies with a view to meeting the conservation buffer as soon as reasonably possible.
Countercyclical capital buffer
Banks’ Tier 1 capital and conservation buffers will also be joined by a new countercyclical capital buffer:
A countercyclical buffer within a range of 0% – 2.5% of common equity or other fully loss absorbing capital will be implemented according to national circumstances. The purpose of the countercyclical buffer is to achieve the broader macroprudential goal of protecting the banking sector from periods of excess aggregate credit growth. For any given country, this buffer will only be in effect when there is excess credit growth that is resulting in a system wide build up of risk. The countercyclical buffer, when in effect, would be introduced as an extension of the conservation buffer range.
And last, but not least, details on the implementation of a capital-to-leverage ratio alongside the mainstream capital ratios, to be applied in full in 2018:
These capital requirements are supplemented by a non-risk-based leverage ratio that will serve as a backstop to the risk-based measures described above. In July, Governors and Heads of Supervision agreed to test a minimum Tier 1 leverage ratio of 3% during the parallel run period. Based on the results of the parallel run period, any final adjustments would be carried out in the first half of 2017 with a view to migrating to a Pillar 1 treatment on 1 January 2018 based on appropriate review and calibration.
Along with freshly agreed implementation dates for a whole host of other Basel changes, including the phasing-out and grandfathering of certain types of equity for the purposes of defining what is allowed to count as Tier 1 capital. They’re in the full release. So are this handy PDF chart of the new capital requirements, and this PDF chart of the implementation table.
Phew. A lot of work for the banks ahead…