Bank of England cancels annual stress test of banks

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England said on Friday it was cancelling this year’s stress test of eight major banks and building societies to enable them to focus on providing lending through the coronavirus crisis.

The timetable for introducing the remaining Basel global capital requirements for banks “may prove to be challenging” and it would coordinate implementation with other countries, the BoE said.

Scrapping this year’s stress test follows a decision by the European Union to cancel its planned health check of leading banks, which had included top UK lenders.

“The recent 2019 stress test showed that the UK banking system was resilient to deep simultaneous recessions in the UK and global economies that are more severe overall than the global financial crisis, combined with large falls in asset prices and a separate stress of misconduct costs,” the BoE said.

The BoE also said it was delaying other regulatory reports on bank liquidity and climate risk, and a study into open-ended investment funds to that banks can focus on dealing with fallout from the coronavirus epidemic on their business and customers.

Banks have asked regulators for relief from a new accounting rule know as IFRS 9 that forces them to begin recognizing potential losses on loans much earlier.

Britain is facing a sharp downturn which typically increases the number of loans turning sour.

“The Bank continues to consider the potential interaction of Covid-19 with IFRS 9…. and expects to provide further guidance to firms regarding our approach next week,” the BoE said.

The BoE also said it would postpone its joint survey with the Financial Conduct Authority into open-ended funds.

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