August COP Oversight Report: $658 Billion In Total Level 3 Assets, Small Banks Need "To Raise Significantly More Capital"

The Congressional Oversight Panel has released its August report which contains some much more dire language about the prospects of the U.S. banking system than did the joke that was the Stress Test, especially in the small/middle bank sector.

The Panel‘s analysis of troubled whole loans suggests they pose a threat to the financial health of smaller banks ($600 million to $100 billion group). Using the same assumptions, it looks as if banks in the $600 million to $100 billion group will need to raise significantly more capital, as the estimated losses will outstrip the projected revenue and reserves. Under the "starting point" scenario, this second group of banks will need to raise $12-14 billion in capital to offset their losses, while in the "starting point + 20% scenario", non-stress-tested banks are expected to have to raise $21 billion in capital to offset their losses. The capital shortfall for those relatively smaller banks is primarily due to the lack of reserves, which on average account for only 25 percent of the expected loan losses.


Another useful data point is the disclosure on the total Level 3 Asset Exposure at March 31, 2009. Compliments of the FASB, over $650 billion in "assets" are being marked-to-model, and most likely overestimate the true worth of these assets by about 50%. That's $300 billion in hot air on the banks' balance sheets.

And as a tangent, in one of the better representations of "complex securities", the COP does a very good and succinct job in highlighting the tranching process of all those collateralized X obligations: maybe if Iceland had seen this 3 years ago it would not be bankrupt.

Full COP report here.