Too-tough capital rules may stifle U.S. lending: Fed's Kashkari

Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:15pm EDT
 
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By Patrick Rucker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regulators may hurt the economy and push borrowers toward non-bank lenders if they set too-high capital standards for Wall Street, Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said on Monday.

The U.S. banking system needs deep reform to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis and Wall Street firms should hold more capital to brace against economic shocks, said Kashkari, who was a Treasury Department official under the George W. Bush administration.

But regulators must be mindful that forcing banks to hold capital means those institutions may have less money to lend, Kashkari told the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

"More capital has downsides that need further exploration," he said in a speech. "In particular, higher capital could raise the cost of lending and potentially reduce economic activity."

Kashkari was addressing a symposium for preventing Too Big to Fail - shorthand for a government rescue of Wall Street.

Banks hold cash, government bonds and other easy-to-sell assets to brace themselves against a crisis and Kashkari said controlling those capital levels is one of the simplest ways to strengthen banks.

Still, he warned that demanding too much from conventional banks could give non-banks an edge.

"Increased capital standards for large banks have the potential to push risk to non-banks, such as hedge funds and insurance companies."   Continued...

 
Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari speaks during an interview at Reuters in New York February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid