Basel Committee Relaxes Liquidity Standards

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On January 7, the Basel Committee released its revised Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR), a component of the comprehensive Basel III accords that also address capital standards. The committee’s LCR is intended to promote short-term resilience of a bank’s liquidity risk and reduce the risk of the banking sector harming the broader economy by failing to absorb shocks arising from financial and economic stress. The LCR requires that a bank have an adequate stock of unencumbered high-quality liquid assets that can be converted into cash easily and immediately in private markets to meet a 30-day liquidity stress scenario. The revised LCR updates standards originally adopted by the Committee in 2010. Given slower than expected strengthening of the banking system and the broader economy, and in response to industry requests, the Committee decided to expand the range of eligible assets to include corporate debt, unencumbered equities, and highly-rated residential mortgage-backed securities. The Committee also clarified its intention to allow banks use their high-quality liquid assets in times of stress. Finally, the Committee revised the timetable for phase-in of the standard. The standard will take effect as planned on January 1, 2015, but the minimum requirement will begin at 60%, rising 10 percentage points each year until full implementation on January 1, 2019.