Banking Organization Capital Plans and Stress Tests: Federal Reserve Announces Limitation and Phase-Out of the Qualitative Objection to Capital Plans and Issues Instructions and Supervisory Scenarios for the 2019 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review and Dodd-Frank Act Stress Test Exercises

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - March 14, 2019

On March 6, 2019, the Federal Reserve amended the CCAR capital plan rule applicable to bank holding companies (“BHCs”) with $100 billion or more in total consolidated assets and U.S. intermediate holding companies (“IHCs”) of foreign banking organizations (collectively, “firms”) to limit and ultimately phase out the Federal Reserve’s ability to object to firms’ capital plans on “qualitative” grounds. The Federal Reserve also issued its annual summary instructions for the 2019 CCAR exercise (the “2019 CCAR Instructions”). Previously, on February 5, 2019, the Federal Reserve had issued its three supervisory scenarios—baseline, adverse and severely adverse (together, the “2019 DFAST/CCAR Scenarios”)—and exogenous add-on components applicable to certain firms for the 2019 exercise, and had also announced that certain firms with between $100 billion and $250 billion in total consolidated assets would be subject to an extended stress test cycle, with the result that they would not be subject to supervisory stress testing, company-run stress testing, or CCAR for 2019. This memorandum summarizes important elements of these releases, with a particular focus on the limitation and phase-out of the qualitative objection and on changes and clarifications to the 2019 CCAR Instructions and 2019 DFAST/CCAR Scenarios, as compared with those issued in 2018.