On November 5, 2015, US FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas M. Hoenig spoke at the Annual International Banking Conference regarding “Post-crisis risks and bank equity capital”. Vice Chairman Hoenig’s remarks focused on the comparison of capitalizing banks with debt or equity capital. Specifically, he pointed out the key risks of using debt capital, as required by the recent TLAC proposal by the Federal Reserve. He noted that costly debt may put earnings pressure on firms and may even accelerate failure in the case of financial distress. Moreover, debt rules essentially require regulators to “predict what activities and investments might cause future crises”. Vice Chairman Hoenig suggested that equity rules would allow well capitalized institutions to withstand shocks and crises in the financial system and would not require any “extraordinary insight” from financial regulators. He argued that the overall economic benefits will be higher than the related costs, and points to the current outperformance of well-capitalized US institutions as compared to less well-capitalized European institutions as an example. According to Vice Chairman Hoenig, “…our goal to prevent failure should be every bit as important as resolving failed firms” and increased equity capital would be a stronger deterrent as compared to debt.
Vice Chairman Hoenig’s complete remarks are available at: https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/speeches/spnov0515.html.