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Capital Requirements

Capital Requirements

What Are Capital Requirements?

Capital requirements are standardized regulations in place for banks and other depository institutions that determine how much liquid capital (that is, effectively sold securities) must be held viv-a-vis a certain level of their assets.

Otherwise called regulatory capital, these standards are set by regulatory agencies, like the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), or the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed).

A furious public and uncomfortable investment climate for the most part end up being the impetuses for legislative reform in capital requirements, particularly when untrustworthy financial behavior by large institutions is viewed as the offender behind a financial crisis, market crash, or recession.

The Basics of Capital Requirements

Capital requirements are set to guarantee that banks and depository institutions' holdings are not overwhelmed by investments that increase the risk of default. They additionally guarantee that banks and depository institutions have sufficient capital to support operating losses (OL) while as yet regarding withdrawals.

In the United States, the capital requirement for banks is based on several factors yet is basically centered around the weighted risk associated with each type of asset held by the bank. These risk-based capital requirements rules are utilized to make capital ratios, which can then be utilized to assess lending institutions based on their relative strength and safety. An adequately capitalized institution, based on the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, must have a tier 1 capital-to-risk-weighted assets ratio of no less than 4%. Normally, Tier 1 capital incorporates common stock, revealed reserves, retained earnings and certain types of preferred stock. Institutions with a ratio below 4% are considered undercapitalized, and those below 3% are essentially undercapitalized.

Capital Requirements: Benefits and Drawbacks

Capital requirements aim not exclusively to keep banks solvent in any case, by extension, to keep the whole financial system on a safe balance. In a period of national and international finance, no bank is an island as regulatory supporters note โ€” a shock to one can influence quite a large number. In this way, even more justification for severe standards that can be applied reliably and used to compare the different sufficiency of institutions.

In any case, capital requirements have their faultfinders. They charge that higher capital requirements can possibly reduce bank risk-taking and competition in the financial sector (on the basis that regulations generally demonstrate costlier to more modest institutions than to larger ones). By commanding banks to keep a certain percentage of assets liquid, the requirements can repress the institutions' ability to invest and bring in cash โ€” and in this way stretch out credit to customers. Keeping up with certain levels of capital can increase their costs, which thus increases costs for borrowing or different services for consumers.


  • Ensure banks stay solvent, avoid default

  • Ensure depositors have access to funds

  • Set industry standards

  • Provide way to compare, evaluate institutions


  • Raise costs for banks and eventually consumers

  • Inhibit banks' ability to invest

  • Reduce availability of credit, loans

## Real World Examples of Capital Requirements

Global capital requirements have swung higher and lower throughout the long term. They will more often than not increase following a financial crisis or economic recession.

Before the 1980s, there were no broad capital adequacy requirements on banks. The capital was only one of many factors utilized in the evaluation of banks, and essentials were tailored to specific institutions.

At the point when Mexico declared in 1982 that it would not be able to service interest payments on its national debt, it ignited a global initiative that prompted legislation, for example, the International Lending Supervision Act of 1983. Through this legislation and the support of major U.S., European and Japanese banks, the 1988 Basel Committee on Banking Regulation and Supervisory Practices announced that, for internationally active commercial banks, adequate capital requirements would be raised from 5.5% to 8% of total assets. It was followed by Basel II in 2004, which incorporated types of credit risk in the calculation of ratios.

Be that as it may, as the 21st century advanced, a system of applying a risk weight to various types of assets permitted banks to hold less capital with total assets. Traditional commercial loans were given a weight of 1. The one weight really intended that for each $1 of commercial loans held on a bank's balance sheet, they would be required to keep eight pennies of capital. Be that as it may, standard residential mortgages were given a weight of 0.5, mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issued by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac were given a weight of 0.2, and short-term government securities were given a weight of 0. By overseeing assets appropriately, major banks could keep up with lower capital ratios than before.

The global financial crisis of 2008 gave the stimulus to the death of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Made to guarantee that the largest U.S. banks keep up with sufficient capital to endure systematic shocks to the banking system, Dodd-Frank โ€” specifically, a section known as the Collins Amendment โ€” set the tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 4% referenced previously. Globally, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision delivered Basel III, regulations which further more tight capital requirements on financial institutions worldwide.


  • Express as a ratio the capital requirements are based on the weighted risk of the banks' various assets.
  • Capital requirements are regulatory standards for banks that determine how much liquid capital (effectively sold assets) they must keep available, concerning their overall holdings.
  • In the U.S. adequately capitalized banks have a tier 1 capital-to-risk-weighted assets ratio of something like 4%.
  • Capital requirements are in many cases fixed after an economic recession, stock market crash, or one more type of financial crisis.