On December 15, the Fed finalized a rule requiring the biggest global banks to guard against potential collapse by holding minimum amounts of long-term debt and regulatory capital. The rule applies to bank holding companies, U.S. global systemically important banks (GSIB), as well as U.S. branches of foreign banks, and aims to shift the costs of bank failure to shareholders rather than taxpayers by requiring lenders to maintain sufficient amounts of long-term debt, which can be converted to equity to keep a failing bank’s key operations afloat. Specifically, the measure will establish minimum required levels for long-term debt and total loss-absorbing capacity, as well as restrictions on certain short-term debt financing arrangements by parents of GSIB-designated financial institutions. In prepared opening remarks, Fed Chair Janet Yellen explained that “[t]he rule is guided by common sense principles: bank shareholders and debt investors should place their own money at risk so depositors and taxpayers are well protected, and the biggest banks must bear the costs that come with their size.”

In a memorandum to the Board of Governors, the Fed’s staff noted that covered banks are currently about $70 billion short altogether of the new requirements. The Fed staff estimated that the aggregate increased funding of approximately $680 million to $2 billion annually would be required to make up the shortfall.