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Biden asks banking regulators to toughen some rules after recent bank failures

President Biden on Thursday called on banking regulators to take more steps to reduce the risk of mid-sized bank failures.
Carolyn Kaster
President Biden on Thursday called on banking regulators to take more steps to reduce the risk of mid-sized bank failures.

President Biden on Thursday urged banking regulators to take additional steps to reduce the risk of more mid-sized bank failures like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

"We think things have stabilized significantly," a White House official told reporters on a conference call. "We also think it's important that regulators take steps to make sure future banking crises don't happen."

The White House blames the Trump administration for weakening regulatory requirements for mid-sized and regional banks. Part of that came through a 2018 law that eased some of the Dodd-Frank rules for banks — a roll-back that was supported by some Democratic senators.

Thursday's announcement side stepped that issue, focusing only on things the White House said could be done by regulators under existing laws without needing Congress to take any action. In the Trump administration, regulators themselves eased back on supervision, the official said. "The tone and the focus and the aggressiveness of supervision was being quite clearly set from the top," the official said.

Regulators are currently doing their own review of what steps are needed to prevent future bank failures like the ones seen earlier this month. Banking regulators are independent, and ultimately the actions and the timeline for any changes would be up to regulators, the White House said. "A lot of these regulators were nominated by this president in part because they share his view of the type of banking regulation that we want to see, so we're hopeful that they will take these steps," the White House official told reporters.

The steps include:

  • Boosting liquidity requirements for banks with assets between $100 billion and $250 billion, and stress-testing banks of that size to ensure they can withstand bank run scares
  • Increasing capital stress tests to once per year instead of once every two years
  • Ensuring those stress tests begin shortly after banks first reach $100 billion in assets, rather than waiting for a few years
  • Reinstate requirements for mid-sized banks to have "living wills" describing plans for how they could be wound down, if needed, to avoid stressing other parts of the banking system
  • Stronger capital requirements for regional banks, after a transition period
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