WASHINGTON - The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency directed national banks Tuesday to beef up their systems for monitoring interest rate risk.

In a lengthy set of questions and answers, the national bank regulator said it expects all institutions to adopt systems that measure the impact of interest rate changes on the value of assets, liabilities, and off- balance-sheet positions.

"Most banks do a pretty good job of managing interest rate risk," said Douglas E. Harris, senior deputy comptroller for capital markets. "But there are some institutions out there with significant exposure."

Mr. Harris said the OCC has developed a methodology for identifying institutions with significant interest rate exposure. From that group, he said, the agency has culled a smaller group of institutions about which it is concerned.

Of the 1,300 banks regulated by the OCC, only 20 are on the latter list.

Most, Mr. Harris said, are small banks.

"Almost all of the banks that came up in the filter were under $300 million in assets," he said.

The agency's advisory document urged banks to consider what would happen to their earnings and balance sheet in several rate scenarios.

"Based on historical analysis, the OCC believes that banks should consider, at a minimum, the impact of a 200-basis-point interest rate change over a one-year horizon," the agency said.

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