Stress Testing and Shoring Up Bank Capital
The Congressional Oversight Panel June Oversight Report, “Stress Testing and Shoring Up Bank Capital,” examines the recent stress tests conducted on America’s 19 largest bank holding companies (BHCs).
In early February, Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board announced an effort to conduct comprehensive and simultaneous reviews of the nation’s largest BHCs—those with more than $100 billion in assets—to determine their ability to remain well capitalized if the recession leads to deeper than expected losses. The effort, called the Supervisory Capital Assessment Program (SCAP), is referred to more informally as the stress tests. BHCs found to be in need of an additional capital buffer were given six months to raise the necessary capital. By ensuring that America’s largest banks could weather the financial storm, stress testing aimed to restore market confidence and help put the economy back on track.
The Panel’s report examines how effectively Treasury and the Federal Reserve conducted the stress tests, specifically reviewing the government’s economic assumptions, their methods of calculating bank capitalization, their release of information to the public, and whether the stress tests should be repeated in the future. To help make these assessments of the stress tests, the panel engaged two internationally renowned experts in risk analysis, University of California at Berkeley Professors Eric Talley and Johan Walden, to review the stress test methodology.