Lawmakers in the U.S. are facing down a two-part problem. On one side, they are considering whether and how to craft a policy response to recent banking turmoil. On the other side, a looming debt ceiling limit could see the country defaulting on its obligations and delaying key benefit payments such as military salaries, tax refunds, food stamps and unemployment insurance. For investors, questions have emerged as to the effects of these two major sets of circumstances.
Morgan Stanley Research outlines what could be ahead for banking regulation, including: how changes in regulation could affect the financial services sector and whether regulation might introduce costs that would have an impact on the timeline for the country’s ability to borrow and pay bills.
How Regulators Responded to Turmoil
Federal regulators sprang into quick action to contain spillover risks from recent disruptions in the banking system brought on by the failure of a few mid-size U.S. banks. This included the Federal Reserve establishing a $25 billion backstop from the Treasury to provide extra access to liquidity for banks, giving investors confidence that regulators stand at the ready in case of future failures.
Although the Treasury Secretary has some leeway to make unilateral changes to the FDIC insurance cap to abate systemic risk, permanent changes require congressional approval, and policy action seems unlikely—at least in the short term. “While there is bipartisan agreement on taking action, there’s no consensus even within the parties on the possible scope of new rules or changes to existing regulations governing banks,” says Morgan Stanley policy strategist Ariana Salvatore. “And with markets calm, lawmakers aren’t necessarily feeling as pressured to make moves.”
Broader regulations—such as reinstating Dodd-Frank rules or imposing stricter capital requirements—are unlikely for the same reasons, Salvatore says. It’s important to note that the FDIC’s current insurance cap of $250,000 per account resulted from a change the agency made during the global financial crisis in response to concerns about deposit safety. Investors may expect the FDIC and the Fed to exercise the full extent of their powers to potentially enhance stress tests and impose fresh liquidity standards, and implement more targeted responses if markets again become disorderly.