The proposal by the chief U.S. banking regulator will affect banks with over $50 billion in assets. There are even stricter rules for companies with over $500 billion in assets such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc.
Fed officials didn't give a timeline for when the rules will be implemented but said the final rules will be released only after the regulators will have a chance to incorporate comments from the public. The Fed is accepting comments for 90 days.
The rules are part of new regulation proposed under the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed last year. Named for former Sen. Christopher Dodd and outgoing Rep. Barney Frank, the new law was written to overhaul the financial system and curb practices that were thought to be responsible for the financial crisis.
Banks are also subject to tighter rules spelled out by international regulators in Basel, Switzerland that were specifically targeted at huge, global financial institutions that do large volumes of business with each other. The failure of one such bank or financial company could destabilize the global financial system, which is what happened when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.
The rules call for banks with over $50 billion in assets to hold cash that is worth at least 5 percent of the value of their assets. The cash will cushion them against bad loans and investments.