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Fed seeks comment on yearly stress tests for top-tier banks

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The Federal Reserve is seeking comment on a proposal to require top-tier bank holding companies with assets of $50 billion or more to submit annual capital plans for review. The Fed said it wants to ensure that institutions have robust, forward-looking capital planning that accounts for unique risks and keeps the banks solvent during times of economic and financial stress. "Institutions would be expected to have credible plans to have sufficient capital so that they can continue to lend to households and businesses, even under adverse conditions," the Federal Reserve Board said Friday. According to the proposal, the boards at these large financial institutions would be required to review and approve capital plans annually before submitting them to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve's review would include looking at proposed capital distributions, such as increasing dividend payments or repurchasing or redeeming stock. If the Fed rejects a capital plan, the bank would be required to receive approval from the Federal Reserve before making capital distributions. The proposal would institutionalize its comprehensive capital analysis and review that was recently completed. In March, the Fed gave the OK for some of the nation's largest banks to boost dividends and restart stock repurchase plans CCAR analyzed the capital plans at the 19 largest U.S. bank holding companies. It followed stress tests led by the Federal Reserve in 2009, which came on the heels of a national financial crisis. Institutional Risk Analytics warned in March that the most recent stress tests suggested the banking industry and economy "may be sliding back into crisis" because of deflation in the housing sector. As of March 31, the most recent available data, 35 U.S. bank holding companies had assets of at least $50 billion. The level of detail and analysis expected in each capital plan would vary based on the company's size, complexity, risk profile and scope of operations. The Federal Reserve plans to finalize the proposal later this year and begin the reviews in early 2012. The proposed capital plans are expected to complement other regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act. Comments are due by Aug. 5. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.

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