Roundtable and Industry Coalition Raise Concerns About Negative Impact of Basel III Endgame Proposal

The Real Estate Roundtable has raised concerns about the negative impact that the “Basel III Endgame” regulatory proposal would have on real estate credit and capital markets, urging federal banking regulators to withdraw their proposed rulemaking to increase capital requirements for banks with at least $100 billion in assets. The Roundtable’s letter Jan. 12 outlines how the proposal would decrease real estate credit availability, increase costs to commercial and multifamily real estate borrowers, and negatively impact the U.S. economy. (Roundtable comment letter)

Industry Opposition

  • The Roundtable letter states, “The largest U.S. banks’ capital and liquidity levels have grown dramatically since the original Basel III standards were implemented in 2013 in response to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. So it is not clear what problem regulators are trying to solve with this proposed capital hike.”
  • The letter also noted that raising capital levels at the largest U.S. banks will only limit credit and feed a downward spiral that will put additional pressure on the financial system.
  • Additionally, The Roundtable filed a Jan. 16 letter, along with a coalition of nine national industry trade groups in opposition to the proposal, citing its potential negative impact on available credit capacity for commercial real estate transactions, market liquidity, and economic growth. (Industry coalition letter)

Fed Weighing Possible Changes

The Federal Reserve in Washington, DC

Federal Reserve officials are considering possible adjustments to key parts of the proposal, “including operational risk calculations and potential offsets for mortgage servicing,” according to the Federal Reserve’s Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr. “The public comment(s) that we’re getting on this is really critical for us getting it right. We take it very, very seriously,” Barr said. (Reuters and PoliticoPro, Jan. 9)

  • The Roundtable joined a coalition of 17 national trade associations in a letter to the Federal Reserve to oppose the proposal on Nov. 14. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led coalition letter, Nov. 14 and Axios, Nov. 16)
  • Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer also stated in a March 2023 comment letter to Barr and other key regulators, “At this critical time, it is important that the agencies do not engage in pro-cyclical policies such as requiring financial institutions to increase capital and liquidity levels to reflect current mark to market models. These policies would have the unintended consequence of further diminishing liquidity and creating additional downward pressure on asset values.”

Wave of Impending CRE Maturities

  • This month’s Roundtable and industry coalition letters emphasize the banking proposal’s negative impact on real estate. The regulators estimate their own proposal would raise capital on the target institutions by 16% on average, which could have a profoundly negative impact on the availability of credit for commercial and multifamily real estate development—especially as interest rates remain high and the need for more affordable housing continues to grow.
  • The coalition letter also notes that the commercial and multifamily real estate industry is a $20 trillion dollar market supported by $5.82 trillion of commercial real estate debt, of which 50% is held by commercial banks.
  • Of that total debt, more than $2 trillion of CRE loans are maturing over the next four years. The letters address how the risks of raising capital levels at the largest U.S. banks would limit credit and exert downward pressure on the financial system.

National Media Reports Focus on CRE Pressures

Scott Rechler, left, speaks with 60 Minutes
  • This week, The Wall Street Journal reported on the impending wave of commercial real estate debt, which increases “the prospect of a surge in defaults as property owners are forced to refinance at higher rates.” The article also cited Trepp data showing that $602 billion in total debt backed by office buildings and other commercial real estate comes due in 2027. (WSJ, Jan. 16)
  • Additionally, CBS’ 60 Minutes on Jan. 14 televised a report on the pressures facing CRE that featured Roundtable Board Member Scott Rechler (Chairman and CEO, RXR), above left. “This post-COVID world of higher interest rates, the changing nature of how people work and live, we’re not going back to where we were,” Rechler said. “And it’s going to be turbulent.”

Capital and credit issues facing CRE will be a focus of discussion at next week’s all-member Roundtable State of the Industry meeting on Jan. 23-24 in Washington, DC.

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Congress Faces Shutdown Deadlines as Domestic Funding and Foreign Aid Priorities Dominate Early 2024 Agenda

Congress faces a looming set of government shutdown deadlines early in the New Year as pressure builds on lawmakers to balance government funding with increased emergency aid requests for the southern border, Ukraine, and Israel. A stopgap bill passed late last year established the first funding deadline on Jan. 19, which could shutter parts of the government—while the second deadline on Feb. 2 could bring a total shutdown, including military operations. (Punchbowl News, Jan. 5 | The Hill, Jan. 1 | Politico, Jan. 2 and Dec. 28)

Tax Legislation

  • Congressional focus on immediate funding priorities adds a degree of uncertainty to an additional tax package that may seek to hitch a ride on any new spending bill early in the year. (Tax Notes and Politico, Jan. 2)
  • Recent discussions between Senate and House tax writers have focused on a package in the $90-100 billion range that would include measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and an increase in the child tax credit for low-income families. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 17)
  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) is scheduled to discuss funding priorities and tax issues during The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 23. Additionally, senior congressional staff from both Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees will discuss the outlook for tax, trade, and other economic legislation in 2024 and beyond with Roundtable members.

Congressional Review Act

  • On the regulatory front, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a tool a new Congress can use to overturn certain federal agency rules completed during the last 60 session days of the previous Congress. This “lookback” threat of CRA reversal may come to fruition if Republicans win control of Congress and the White House in the November elections. (PoliticoPro, Jan. 2 and Congressional Research Service.)

A CRA initiative could impact Biden administration regulations completed this summer, but an exact date for when new rules would be clear of the CRA “lookback” is unknown at this time. (PoliticoPro, Jan. 2)

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The Roundtable and Coalition Request Reproposal of Basel III Capital Rulemaking as Banking Regulators Face Bipartisan Congressional Opposition

The Real Estate Roundtable joined a coalition of 17 national trade associations in a Nov. 14 letter to the Federal Reserve, urging regulators to repropose a sweeping set of proposed rules—known as the “Basel III Endgame”—that would increase capital requirements for the nation’s largest banks. Meanwhile, the nation’s top federal banking regulators testified this week before congressional committees, where they faced stiff bipartisan opposition to the proposal. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led coalition letter, Nov. 14 and Axios, Nov. 16)

Bipartisan Opposition

  • In July, the regulators jointly approved the 1,100-page proposed Basel III rulemaking, which aims to guard against potential risk by increasing capital requirements for banks with at least $100 billion in assets. The proposal could have a significant impact on available credit capacity for commercial real estate transactions, as well as undermine liquidity and economic growth. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 10 and CQ, Nov. 15)
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stated that higher capital standards could impede investment in clean energy while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) emphasized that higher capital requirements pose a risk for mortgage loans to low-income and minority buyers. (Axios, Nov. 14)
  • Before the hearings, Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) led 38 of his colleagues in a Nov. 13 letter to the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to withdraw the Basel III Endgame proposal.
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy Chairman Andy Barr (R-KY) also sent letters to the regulators on Nov. 14, claiming the Basel III regulations would put the nation’s financial system at a competitive disadvantage.

More Feedback for Basel III

Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr
  • During the hearings, the Fed’s Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr defended the proposals, yet responded that regulators are “quite open to comment, and we want to improve the rule before we get to a final rule.”
  • On Oct. 20, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC announced an extension of the comment period on the Basel capital proposal from Nov. 30, 2023 to Jan. 16, 2024. The agencies also launched a quantitative impact study to clarify the estimated effects of the proposal, with the data collection deadline also due Jan. 16.
  • Since the deadline for stakeholder comments is the same day as the impact study’s final data collection deadline, there is broad concern that the regulators’ failed to provide industry participants with an opportunity to assess and comment on any of the Agencies’ collected data.  (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 27)

The Roundtable’s Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) discussed the capital requirements proposal during its Nov. 8 meeting in New York. RECPAC welcomes Roundtable membership input as it works on a Basel III comment letter due in January. (Contact Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers)

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