Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 3:46 pm
Update at 4:34 p.m. ET. 15 of 19 Banks Pass Stress Test:
The Federal Reserve says 15 of the country's top 19 banks have enough capital to survive a "severe recession," which it defined as "peak unemployment rate of 13 percent, a 50 percent drop in equity prices, and a 21 percent decline in housing prices."
When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, it was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. More than three years later, Lehman is emerging from Chapter 11. The firm is really just back in business to liquidate itself. Lehman has about $65 billion in assets that it intends to distribute among its many creditors starting next month.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve has shrugged off warnings and let the largest U.S. financial firms pay tens of billions of dollars in dividends to shareholders, instead of putting aside money as capital in case a new financial crisis hits.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it's looking to overhaul rules on overdraft fees. The new agency will be seeking data from banks about how they handle overdrawn accounts, and how they assess fees. The agency plans to use this information to help consumers limit their exposure to these costly charges.
The CFPB estimates that last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees.
A big reason for the slow recovery has been that the nation's battered banks haven't been able or willing to lend. There are signs that's changing and that bank lending is helping to support stronger growth.
Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, say his reading of Federal Reserve data has convinced him that banks have finally taken the baton from the Fed and are now making credit more available.
"We've seen a sharp increase in business loans on the books of banks," he says.