Capital Requirement

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DEFINITION of 'Capital Requirement'

The standardized requirements in place for banks and other depository institutions, which determines how much liquidity is required to be held for a certain level of assets through regulatory agencies such as the Bank for International Settlements, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or Federal Reserve Board. These requirements are put into place to ensure that these institutions are not participating or holding investments that increase the risk of default and that they have enough capital to sustain operating losses while still honoring withdrawals.

Also known as "regulatory capital".

BREAKING DOWN 'Capital Requirement'

In the United States, the capital requirement for banks is based on several factors, but is mainly focused on the weighted risk associated with each type of asset held by the bank. The capital requirements guidelines are used to create capital ratios, which can then be used to evaluate and compare lending institutions based on their relative safety.

An adequately capitalized institution, based on the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, must have a Tier 1 capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio of at least 4%. Institutions with a ratio below 4% are considered undercapitalized and those below 3% are significantly undercapitalized.

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