Results of Bank Stress Tests To Start Emerging Next Week

By Steve Liesman
|  Thursday, Apr 16, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM PDT
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The Obama administration will disclose details about its banking stress tests and what capital participants may need in a two-stage process beginning next week, CNBC has learned.

Here's what the timeline looks like, according to federal regulatory sources.

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On April 24, the government will reveal the economic and financial assumptions involved in the tests, which are meant to determine an institution's ability to withstand a further deterioration in the economic environment. Such criteria would include a rise in the unemployment rate.

On May 4, actual results of the test will be released, including what steps may be needed to address a bank's capital needs.

During that time, the participating banks -- the nation's 19 largest -- will hold individual meetings with banking regulators as well as Treasury officials to discuss the results and remedies.

The govenment's plan has always called for providing federal financial aid to companies that cannot rasie the needed capital from the private sector, which is the preference.

The White House Wednesday tried to contain growing speculation about the tests: "Early in May you will see in a systematic and coordinated way the transparency of determining and showing to all involved some of the results of these stress tests," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The stress tests are part of the administration's multi-faceted financial stability plan, which include a public private-partnership for buying banks' toxic assets, mortgage market support and a business-consumer lending facility.

The assumptions include both base-case and worst-case scenarios, as well as adverse market shocks.

Banks will be given an opportunity to comment on the tests in the April 24-May 4 period.

The stress tests have been something of a hot potato for the Obama administration more than two months ago. Analysts have worried that the process might not be transparent enough for the markets and could have unintended consequences, such as creating a weak/strong division among the participants.

Others have said that the tests are nothing more than political theatre in that financial institutions are regularly subjected to such testing by bank examiners.

For more stories from CNBC, go to cnbc.com.

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