On January 19, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles spoke at the American Bar Association Banking Law Committee Annual Meeting to discuss his initial observations on the post-crisis regulation regime and provide a status update on the Fed’s key areas of focus for improving the “efficiency, transparency, and simplicity of regulation.” Quarles emphasized that there are a variety of means to improve efficiency, such as (i) addressing unintended adverse consequences of a regulation, or (ii) calibrating a regulation “more precisely to the risks in need of mitigation.” Transparency around rulemaking encourages a variety of perspectives, and simplifying regulations “promotes public understanding of regulation, promotes meaningful compliance by the industry with regulation, and reduces unexpected negative synergies among regulations,” he added.

According to Quarles, “small bank capital simplification, burden reduction in resolution planning, enhancements to stress testing, leverage ratio recalibration, and Volcker rule simplification” are common ground areas for improvement, efforts have progressed, and regulations have been proposed for changes, including extending the resolution planning cycle to reduce the reporting burden. Quarles also noted that the Fed expects to release a proposal on leverage ratio recalibration in the near future, and has started working with five banking agencies on a proposal to streamline the Volcker rule.

Another area of focus Quarles highlighted is the Fed’s plan to revisit the “advanced approaches” thresholds used to identify internationally active banks, including risk-based capital requirements as well as the supplementary leverage ratio. Quarles further noted that the current $250 billion-asset or $10 billion in on-balance-sheet foreign exposures thresholds were formulated more than a decade ago “and have not been refined since then.” Additionally, Quarles announced plans to work with his Fed colleagues to simplify the framework for loss absorbency requirements. According to Quarles, candidates for simplification include (i) eliminating the advanced approaches risk-based capital requirements; (ii) eliminating one or more stress testing ratios; and (iii) modifying the total loss-absorbing capacity requirements. The framework for making determinations of control under the Bank Holding Company Act—while not a post-crisis regulation—could also be improved to be less “burdensome and time-consuming,” Quarles added.

Finally, as previously covered in InfoBytes, Quarles commented on the Fed’s requests for comments issued last December on three proposals designed to increase stress testing transparency while also testing the resiliency of large, complex banks. “I believe that the disclosure we have provided does not go far enough to provide visibility into the supervisory models that often deliver a firm's binding capital constraint,” Quarles noted.