Wells Fargo & Co., State Street Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are falling short of capital thresholds expected to be included in a rule still being hammered out by U.S. regulators. The thresholds are meant to mitigate taxpayer losses in another financial crisis, Reuters reported.
At present, U.S. banks are required to hold equity equal to about 10 percent of their balance sheet to serve as a shock absorber to cover the risk of a sharp drop in the value of loans, investments and other assets on their books.
Banking experts believe U.S. regulators will require them to hold another 10 percent in bonds with maturities of more than a year and other instruments, as part of the forthcoming rule.
The banks exceed the current threshold, but fall short of the 20 percent standard, Reuters said.
Wells Fargo's loss-absorbing capital stood at 17 percent at the end of last year, State Street's was 18.2 percent and JPMorgan stood at 19.1 percent, according to a Reuters analysis of eight banks, based on regulatory filings and methodology recently presented by Citigroup Inc.
"These are figures which have been circulating," said Bernard De Longevialle, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor's. "The market tends to view these three (banks) as those who would potentially be the most stretched."
Analysts and officials at banks are basing their estimates for the benchmarks partially on discussions with regulators and on wider market assumptions for what would be a reasonable level.
The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., who are jointly working on the rule, declined Reuters' request for comments.
Regulators want creditors - and not just shareholders - to take a hit if a bank lands in trouble, to prevent a repeat of the panic that spread when Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. collapsed in 2008.