from the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Reserve significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation’s biggest banks shortly before concluding its stress tests, following two weeks of intense bargaining.
In addition, according to bank and government officials, the Fed used a different measurement of bank-capital levels than analysts and investors had been expecting, resulting in much smaller capital deficits.
At least half of the banks pushed back against the preliminary findings of the tests, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people with direct knowledge of the process.
Citigroup’s capital shortfall was reduced to $5.5 billion from about $35 billion after bank executives persuaded the Fed to include future capital-boosting impacts of pending transactions, the story said.
Wells Fargo’s shortfall was cut to $13.7 billion from $17.3 billion and Fifth Third’s was reduced to $1.1 billion from $2.6 billion.
(Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)
While some of the lenders may need extra cash injections from the government, most of the capital is likely to come from converting preferred shares to common equity, the people said. The Federal Reserve is now hearing appeals from banks, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., that regulators have determined need more of a cushion against losses, they added.
By pushing conversions, rather than federal assistance, the government would allow banks to shore themselves up without the political taint that has soured both Wall Street and Congress on the bailouts. The risk is that, along with diluting existing shareholders, the government action won’t seem strong enough.
Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the latest atrocity from the banks. The vast, engorged, gluttonous multi-national corporations. Whose sneezes can be fatal to our jobs. Whose mistakes can turn us into the homeless. Whose accounting errors can be so panoramic that they can make our economy tremble and force us to hand them billions after billions in a blackmail scheme that has come to be known as “bailout.”