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Fed warns banks to shore up capital

The number of workers seeking jobless benefits has held steady at about 1.5 million each week so far in June, signaling a slow recovery for the U.S. economy as states face new infections that could impede hiring and consumer spending, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, the number of people receiving benefits, an indicator for overall layoffs, totaled 19.5 million in the week ended June 13, down slightly from previous weeks.

  • Stress test leads to warning from Fed: The Fed said a prolonged economic downturn could saddle the nation’s biggest banks with up to $700 billion in losses on soured loans and ordered them to cap dividends and suspend share buybacks to conserve funds. In a worst-case scenario, where unemployment remains high and the economy doesn’t bounce back for a few quarters, the 33 largest U.S. banks would suffer heavy loan losses that would erode the capital buffers meant to keep them on stable financial footing. 
  • Bottom line: The Fed said U.S. banks are strong enough to withstand the crisis and restricted dividend payouts and buybacks to make sure they stay that way. In a sign of the uncertainty facing the industry, the Fed required banks to resubmit updated capital plans later this year to reflect current stresses. [WSJ+WSJ1]

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