FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. banking regulators announced Friday that banks would have the option of ignoring the capital implications of a new global accounting standard for two years in a bid to ensure banks continue lending through the pandemic.
The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also voted to allow banks to adopt early a new methodology for measuring counterparty credit risk in derivatives transactions, now functional at the end of March. Regulators said the early adoption could “smooth disruptions” in the market.
The regulatory tweaks mark the latest in a long-running effort by regulators to ease rules on banks amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to ensure they continue lending and supporting the economy.
Specifically, regulators said banks will be able to ignore potentially higher capital requirements they might face under a new global accounting standard. The “current expected credit loss” standard requires banks to estimate potential future losses on loans, which banks have argued could be particularly problematic in the current stressed environment.
Banks now would have the option of delaying for two years the capital impact of the new standard, followed by a three-year transition period. The regulatory relief comes as Congress is poised to pass sweeping economic relief legislation that would have allow banks to ignore the standard for a year.
Separately, the regulators also agreed to allow banks to adopt their new rule on measuring counterparty risk a quarter early if they want. Regulators said by allowing banks to use the new rule sooner, beginning at the end of March, it would give firms access to a more risk-sensitive framework during a volatile time.
Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Diane Craft