OSFI announced its decision to maintain the Domestic Stability Buffer at 1% of total risk-weighted assets. The buffer remains unchanged from the level set on March 13, 2020 as part of the response of OSFI to the COVID-19 crisis. The buffer is calculated as described under the Capital Adequacy Requirements (CAR) Guideline and is intended for the six largest banks that have been designated as domestic systemically important banks, or D-SIBs, in Canada.
In March 2020, the Domestic Stability Buffer was lowered by 1.25% to provide banks with additional lending capacity during the COVID-19 crisis. OSFI expects banks to continue to draw on this capacity to support Canadian businesses and households. The decision to keep the buffer unchanged reflects the OSFI assessment that the current Domestic Stability Buffer level remains effective in supporting the resilience of the Canadian banking system and the overall economy. OSFI expects banks to continue to draw on this capacity to support Canadian businesses and households. The Domestic Stability Buffer requires six largest banks in Canada to set aside a portion of their capital during good times so they can draw down on that reserve in times of economic stress. As of June 2020, the federally regulated financial institutions that have been designated as domestic systemically important banks are Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto-Dominion Bank.
OSFI reviews and sets the level of the Domestic Stability Buffer on a semi-annual basis (June and December), based on its ongoing monitoring of federally regulated financial institutions as well as system-wide and sectoral developments. When OSFI lowered the Domestic Stability Buffer on March 13, it committed that any increases to the buffer will not take effect for at least 18 months. The largest banks in Canada entered this downturn from a position of strength and both the quantity and quality of their capital remains strong. Fiscal and monetary policy responses have also helped to cushion the impact of the pandemic. However, vulnerabilities in the financial system remain elevated and the pace of economic recovery is difficult to predict. The pandemic has added pressure on highly indebted households and businesses while asset imbalances remain elevated. Lower global growth also presents the possibility that some external risks could spill over into the Canadian financial system.
Keywords: Americas, Canada, Banking, Domestic Stability Buffer, COVID-19, Regulatory Capital, D-SIBs, Basel, OSFI
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