“US regulators are expected to finalise a leverage ratio rule on Tuesday that is aimed at making it harder for the largest US banks to manipulate their assets to meet capital requirements.
“Most bank capital rules are “risk-weighted”, requiring more loss-absorbing equity to be held against riskier loans and securities. But there has been concern that the model-based risk weights leave room for banks to game the system, and hold less capital.
“The leverage ratio is meant as a blunt backstop that requires capital against total assets, regardless of risk, so $1 of a safe US Treasury is counted as $1 of a complex derivative.
“Suspicion of risk weights has led US regulators to keep a leverage ratio as a backstop for years. But they are now preparing to demand more capital against total assets, toughening the rule.”
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