Federal Reserve governors on Monday voted on tougher restrictions for the eight biggest U.S. banks, a move intended to either reduce the possibility of a failure or force the banks to shrink.
The rule imposes what the regulators called a capital "surcharge" on the biggest banks, requiring them to maintain capital levels above the requirements for all banks implemented as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
In a statement prepared for Monday's vote, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the rule would "confront these firms with a choice: They must either hold substantially more capital, reducing the likelihood that they will fail, or else they must shrink their systemic footprint, reducing the harm that their failure would do to our financial system."
The rule would require a capital surcharge of 1 percent to 4.5 percent of risk-weighted assets, depending on the size and makeup of the bank. The added capital requirements would force the banks to rely less on borrowing and more on equity funding, reducing the odds of a panic among creditors.
JPMorgan Chase would be the only bank facing the 4.5 percent surcharge. Federal Reserve officials said that JPMorgan would be $12.5 billion short of the requirement, according to American Banker. The requirement will be phased in and won't fully go into effect until 2019.
The other banks affected by the rule are Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, State Street and Bank of New York Mellon.
The rule approved Monday is based on recommendations by the Basel Committee of central bank governors from around the country. Fed officials have said for months that they wanted to go beyond the committee's recommendation for a 1 percent to 2.5 percent surcharge for banks identified as large enough to cause trouble for the financial system if they failed.
Their decision comes against opposition from the banks. "Regulators should reasonably address risk, but this rule will keep billions of dollars out of the economy, reduce lending to small businesses and families, and put American companies at a competitive disadvantage compared to foreign competitors," said Tim Pawlenty, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable.
The Fed said the final rule contained only minor changes from when it was proposed in December.
All five members of the agency voted in favor of the final rule.