17 of 18 top banks fortified, Fed says

By Marcy Gordon and Christina Rexrode

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 8:36 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON — All but one of the nation's 18 largest banks are more prepared to withstand a severe U.S. recession and a global downturn than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve says.

Results of the Fed's annual "stress tests" showed Thursday that as a group, the 18 banks hold fewer bad loans compared with last year, helped by a stronger economy. The Fed will announce next week whether it will approve the banks' plans to issue dividends or repurchase shares.

The Fed's data show that one of the banks, Ally Financial Inc., would have a much lower capital buffer against losses than the others under the most severe scenario. Ally's projected capital level is below the minimum that the Fed considers a bank would need to survive a severe recession.

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