Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Concern over bank capital rise

New rules forcing banks to hold more cash in reserve risk stifling the recovery unless they are phased in gradually, the CBI warned today.

The Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC) recently said lenders must plug a £25bn capital shortfall as they face a potential £50bn hit over the next three years from eurozone shocks, bad debts and mis-selling scandals. But business lobby group the CBI said capital buffer increases must be carefully timed so vital cash is not sucked from the economy just as growth looks to be picking up.

CBI director general John Cridland made the comments as the group confirmed forecasts for the UK economy to grow by 1% this year, before accelerating to 2% next year. Growth in business investment is expected to be just 3.3% this year, reflecting caution among companies while the global recovery remains precarious.

Mr Cridland said forcing lenders to build capital buffers too fast means they are "less able in the round to support business users of finance".

He added: "I would not front-load the capital requirements. The banks are saying there's a tendency to push too quickly on capital buffers and that's holding back money that could be spent on new products. The timing of capital requirements is a very material part of the contribution they can make to economic growth."

Lenders have been told to bolster capital reserves since the financial crisis froze money markets and forced bank bailouts.

Regulators are expected to order banks to fill the £25bn capital hole by the end of the year.

But Mr Cridland called for UK regulators to apply consistent rules on bank capital, in line with other global regulators.

The UK economy grew by 0.3% in the first quarter as a strong showing from the service sector helped Britain avoid a triple-dip recession.

Mr Cridland said the economy was "moving from flat to growth". He added: "Whilst firms are on a cautious footing there's a bit more optimism about the outlook."

But he added growth prospects are "fraught with uncertainty" as consumers remain under pressure and Europe's recovery crawls on.

£50bn

Lenders could face a £50bn hit over eurozone shocks and bad debts

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