RBS’s full-year 2016 capital ratio under the European Banking Authority’s “Adverse Scenario” is 5.7% versus 6.7% previously reported—meaning the bank just hurdled the minimum 5.5% pass rate. The EBA organized the stress tests, which were aimed to help restore confidence in bank balance sheets. RBS said it erroneously considered around billions of pounds of deferred tax assets as top quality capital. After comparing with other U.K. banks it realized its error and restated the calculation. [WSJ]
Wall Street’s banks were pretty hard on themselves for this year’s choose-your-own-misadventure stress-test trial runs, conjuring a way worse recession than they did last year, and doing concomitantly worse as a result. Citigroup’s Tier 1 would fall from 9.1% to 8.7%, JPMorgan’s from 8.5% to 8.4%, Morgan Stanley’s from 9.5% to 8.9% and Wells Fargo’s from 9.9% to 9.6%.
But not everyone’s doing so badly, even when they were really, really hard on themselves. Read more »
The trauma of having your allowance withheld by the Federal Reserve is bad enough. What’s worse is having the failure laid squarely at the feet of two top officials who you’ll be sharing an elevator with for the foreseeable future.
Federal Reserve Hints That Maybe Banks Should Hire Jerry Bruckheimer To Help Write Their Stress Test ScenariosBy Matt Levine
Today the Fed released a paper making fun of banks for their lame responses to the Fed’s stress tests, both on prudential-regulatory and on literary grounds. For instance, the banks were supposed to come up with their own stress scenario and see how they’d do in that scenario, and a lot of banks apparently phoned in that effort. The Fed was unimpressed:
A BHC [bank holding company] stress scenario that simply features a generic weakening of macroeconomic conditions similar in magnitude to the supervisory severely adverse scenario does not meet [the Fed's] expectations.
BHCs with stronger scenario-design practices clearly and creatively tailored their BHC stress scenarios to their unique business-model features, emphasizing important sources of risk not captured in the supervisory severely adverse scenario. Examples of such risks observed in practice included a significant counterparty default; a natural disaster or other operational-risk event; and a more acute stress on a particular region, industry, and/or asset class as compared to the stress applied to general macroeconomic conditions in the supervisory adverse and severely adverse scenarios.
At the same time, BHC stress scenarios should not feature assumptions that specifically benefit the BHC. For example, some BHCs with weaker scenario-design practices assumed that they would be viewed as strong compared to their competitors in a stress scenario and would therefore experience increased market share.
Oh sure you get points for, I don’t know, having a lot of capital or whatever the ultimate point of all of this is, but what really distinguishes a B+ from an A bank, stress-test-wise, is creative scenario design. Read more »
The potentially delusional Europeans are setting an “illusionary” timetable for what may be magical tests based on comically enormous spreadsheets that may or may not accurately reflect anything. Read more »
Derivatives are confusing, even pretty simple ones, which is why Goldman Sachs can describe Warren Buffett’s sale of $5 billion of GS stock like this:
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. today announced that it has amended its warrant agreement with Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, Berkshire Hathaway) from cash settlement1 to net share settlement.
“We intend to hold a significant investment in Goldman Sachs, a firm that I did my first transaction with more than 50 years ago,” said Warren Buffett, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway. “I have been privileged to have known and admired Goldman’s executive leadership team since my first meeting with Sidney Weinberg in 1940.”
“We are pleased that Berkshire Hathaway intends to remain a long-term investor in Goldman Sachs,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.
In September 2008, Buffett bought – among other things – warrants to buy 43.5mm shares of Goldman Sachs stock in October 2013 for $115 a share, for a total purchase price of $5 billion. Today he amended that to instead allow him to buy in October 2013, for a total purchase price of zero, a number of Goldman Sachs shares equal to (A) 43.5 million times (B) [the average trading price of those shares at the end of September 2013 minus $115] divided by (C) that average trading price. As of when I type this, at a price of $145.80, that works out to around 9.2 million shares. So one way to read today’s agreement is that in effect Buffett is selling back 34 million (give or take) shares to Goldman for $5 billion. Read more »
One of the nice things about last year’s Fed bank stress tests was that they were released, and everyone was like “OMG Citi failed!!,” and then we all calmed down and realized that all that meant was that Citi’s capital return plans had failed, so it couldn’t launch a big share buyback, but it wasn’t going to be smashed into dust as a warning to its compatriots. That turned out to be cold comfort for Vikram Pandit but was soothing for the rest of us. This year, in part to avoid the Vikram thing, the rules have changed: today the straight-up stress test results were released, while the Fed will approve or reject capital return proposals next week, and there’ll be a lot of weird disclosure gamesmanship in the interim. Early signs point to Citi being out of the doghouse, and Goldman possibly being in it.
Also Ally Bank failed, sorry! Legit failed, not failed pro forma for capital return. So, smashed into dust.
Here is a chart you may or may not find amusing: