In the last few years, Morgan Stanley’s balance sheet has changed almost beyond recognition. From having almost $2 trillion in assets in 2010 (measured on an IRFS basis), the bank now has a third less. Derivatives notional fell to $14.9 trillion from $26.2 trillion, a 43% decline. And corporate debt in the bank’s trading book plunged by 58% from $69 billion to $28 billion.
Under Basel rules, these changes have had a huge impact on Morgan Stanley’s capital requirements. Market risk-weighted assets declined by 60% since the end of 2012, contributing to an 11% decline in capital requirements overall, the most of any large US bank. That helped boost Morgan Stanley’s return on RWAs to an average of 2.4% last year, ahead of its peers.