EghtesadOnline: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney signaled he could raise banks’ capital requirements as early as this summer should the U.K. economy remain steady following the nation’s vote to leave the European Union.
There “will be a case” for the BOE’s Financial Policy Committee to raise the countercyclical capital buffer for U.K. exposures if the economy continues to perform as it has in recent months, Carney told lawmakers from Parliament’s Treasury Committee in London on Wednesday. He said uncertainty stemming from Brexit negotiations won’t necessarily matter unless the economy or credit conditions worsen, according to Bloomberg.
“The judgment may be that it’s appropriate to raise it,” Carney said. “This is part and parcel of the framework. You can expect us both to release it when it’s necessary but absolutely to rebuild it as soon as it’s practicable.”
Carney cut the buffer, which forces banks to hold capital against risk-weighted assets, in the immediate aftermath of the June 23 Brexit vote, aiming to raise lending capacity by as much as 150 billion pounds ($184 billion). The move sought to stave off a Brexit shock-induced slump by encouraging banks to lend, and since then the economy has performed better than some analysts anticipated.
“We certainly won’t sit here wringing our hands and saying ‘this is terrible, the Brexit negotiations create uncertainty, we can’t touch the buffer,’” FPC external member Martin Taylor, a former chief executive officer of Barclays Plc, said at the same meeting of lawmakers. “I’m sure the banks can see how the economy is performing, can see their unsecured loan books and draw the same conclusions that we might.”
The comments from Carney and FPC members tally with the central bank’s recent reassessment of the economy’s prospects. It raised its growth forecasts in November and dropped a plan to cut interest rates for a second time, while Carney indicated on Wednesday there could be another upgrade to the outlook in its next assessment in February.
The countercyclical buffer -- a post-financial crisis measure designed to be bolstered in good times and eased in downturns to support lending -- had been due to be introduced in March of this year at 0.5 percent, before the surprise Brexit vote sparked concern that the economy could seize up. Officials said in November they would hold the measure at zero until at least June, while Carney said if the economy is in a “normal state,” he would like to see the measure rise to about 1 percent.
“Part of the reason for doing this proactively was to show no doubt that these buffers can be released and banks shouldn’t hoard capital,” external FPC member Anil Kashyap said at the hearing. “That doesn’t mean it’s stuck down forever.”