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Archive for Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Big banks seek better scores on stress tests

April 28, 2009

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— As executives of the nation’s largest banks review their stress-test results, even the top performers are lobbying regulators to raise their scores before the numbers are finalized Friday.

Any banks found to need more capital face tough choices that would hurt shareholders and put taxpayer money at greater risk.

The Federal Reserve on Friday privately gave the 19 largest financial firms preliminary results of tests designed to see how they would withstand a harsher recession.

Executives sifted through the data over the weekend, devising arguments they hope will persuade regulators to boost their scores, according to two industry officials who requested anonymity because regulators have barred them from discussing the process.

Banks have until today to make their cases. They will receive the final test results Friday, and the information will be released publicly May 4.

The results will determine the fates of the companies, which together hold one-half of the U.S. banking system’s loans. Banks found to need more capital face several possibilities: The government could convert its stake in them to common shares, force them to raise money from investors or eventually release more funds from the Treasury Department’s $700 billion financial bailout.

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