New FDIC rules require banks to share some risk

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are insisting that banks share some risk when issuing the type of asset-backed securities that nearly toppled the financial system two years ago.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is requiring banks hold at least 5 percent of the securities on their books, as part of new rules the regulator adopted Monday that were required under the new financial overhaul law. Banks would be required to purchase their share of the securities beginning Jan. 1.

The idea is that banks with such exposure to risk would be more careful about properly screening borrowers.

Financial industry executives have opposed the requirements. Banks don't have enough room on their balance sheets to retain 5 percent of all the loans they make, some executives have maintained.

The so-called "skin-in-the-game" requirement was mandated by the financial overhaul law enacted in July. There is an exemption to the requirement. Banks won't have to meet it for mortgage securities that contain so-called "safe" loans, such as a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment.

The securities may contain bundles of mortgages, credit card or auto loans. The securities will have to meet the FDIC's requirements to ensure that the government doesn't seize them if the bank fails. In addition to the 5 percent minimum holding for banks, there are other requirements such as what the banks must disclose to regulators about the securities and what documents borrowers must submit for the loans.

At a public meeting, the FDIC board also voted, 4-1, to extend through Dec. 31 a guarantee against seizure of the securities in a bank failure if the requirements aren't met. It was set to expire Thursday.

Without an extension, the market for asset-backed securities would be completely "shut down," Michael Krimminger, a deputy to FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, told board members at the meeting.

"A fair balance has been struck between protecting the FDIC's deposit insurance fund and allowing participants to adjust to a safer, more transparent" market for asset-backed securities, Bair said.

John Walsh, the acting comptroller of the currency, voted against the rule.

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer