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Highlights

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO evaluated the implications of a more stringent test for qualifying savings and loan associations to operate as insured thrifts, focusing on: (1) requirements changing the minimum thrift portfolio proportion of housing-related assets from 60 percent to 70 percent; and (2) better definition and restriction of acceptable thrift investments.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
In view of the possibility that raising the qualified thrift lender test to a higher level may increase risks, Congress may wish to consider amending the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) to leave the qualified thrift lender test unchanged at the current 60-percent level, while retaining the FIRREA prospective and more precise language regarding those assets that qualify as housing related. Congress should also consider allowing safe investments, such as U.S. Treasury securities with less than 1 year to maturity, to qualify without limitation as qualified thrift investments. Such investments present little risk to the deposit insurance fund and can provide thrifts with liquidity to respond to marketplace changes and unstable environments.
Closed - Implemented
Proposals to amend the qualified thrift lender test were passed as the Qualified Thrift Lender Reform Act of 1991. While the QTL percentage was left unchanged at 70 percent, the new law made it easier for institutions to qualify by increasing the liquid assets excludable from portfolios when determining the QTL asset base, and by expanding the investments that qualify.

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