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Pro-Clinton group plans event to focus on gay and lesbian donors

A super PAC supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton’s possible presidential campaign is reaching out to some of New York’s most powerful and wealthy gay and lesbian donors.

The group, Ready for Hillary, has built a name for itself with small-dollar grass-roots outreach and the selling of clever items like an iPhone case with the well-recognized image of Clinton texting in dark sunglasses. But on April 7 the group will hold a higher-dollar event hosted by Jon Stryker, a billionaire philanthropist and Clinton donor, and featuring Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California and former mayor of San Francisco.

Finance council co-chairman positions start at $25,000; a finance council membership costs $5,000; sponsorships are $1,000; and guests can attend for $500.

Those figures represent a stark change from the low-dollar fundraising party that Ready for Hillary will host Thursday at the Boom Boom Room, a trendy Manhattan bar at the top of the Standard Hotel. Tickets for that event start at $20.16.

Ready for Hillary has prided itself on the type of grass-roots list building and data collecting that baffled Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and partly contributed to Barack Obama’s victory. The group, which raised more than $4 million in 2013, capped its individual donations at $25,000.

Priorities USA, meanwhile, has emerged as the big-money political action committee that recently said it would throw its full support behind Clinton should she decide to run.

The April 7 Ready for Hillary event is also notable in that it reaches out to some of the city’s wealthy lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender donors, some of whom still harbor animosity about the policies advanced by President Bill Clinton’s White House in the 1990s. They are still widely expected to support Clinton.

—Amy Chozick, The New York Times

Most large banks in U.S. could cope in event of turmoil, Fed says

Nearly all of the nation’s largest banks have adequate capital to withstand a severe economic downturn and market turmoil, the Federal Reserve has found in its latest annual stress test of the U.S. financial system.

The results, which were released Thursday afternoon, showed a banking system that has substantially healed since the 2008 financial crisis.

But as the legacy of that crisis recedes, the Fed is testing out new risks on the banks’ balance sheets, like potential damage from rapidly rising interest rates. It is a situation that is becoming less far-fetched in light of the Fed’s moves to curtail its stimulus campaign.

“That is the big thing that people are worried about,” said Thomas F. Cooley, a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Rising rates are going to induce some stress into the system, and we don’t know how sensitive bank portfolios are to it.”

All of the banks tested by the Fed had sufficient capital to weather an extreme interest rate shock, but they would suffer big loan losses.

In this year’s test, the Fed expanded the number of banks under review to 30 from 18 and included for the first time the U.S. units of several large European banks, like Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander of Spain.

Two large banks that required substantial government support after the financial crisis, Citigroup and Bank of America, had minimum capital ratios of 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively. JPMorgan Chase had a minimum capital ratio — technically called the Tier One common ratio — of 6.3 percent

The only bank that fell short of the minimum capital ratio of 5 percent was Zions Bancorp of Utah, which had a ratio of 3.5 percent. The bigger test for the nation’s banks will come next week when the Fed releases its decisions on the banks’ capital plans.

Some critics say that its efforts to ensure a sound financial system may be working against the goal of other policymakers in generating economic growth. If the Fed increases the rigors of its tests on the banks’ capital, it could crimp lending to consumers and businesses and put a damper on growth.

—Michael Corkery, The New York Times

Mayors jailed in Venezuela amid protests

CARACAS, Venezuela — The authorities have jailed the mayors of two cities that have seen some of the worst unrest in a wave of protests that has shaken the country in recent weeks. The arrests came as the National Assembly called for a criminal investigation of a prominent opposition lawmaker on charges related to the demonstrations.

The intelligence police Wednesday arrested Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristóbal, a city near the western border with Colombia where the protests began in early February. Many parts of San Cristóbal have been virtually shut down for weeks by demonstrators manning barricades, and clashes between residents and security forces are common.

Ceballos was arrested during a trip to Caracas, the capital. Justice Minister Miguel Rodríguez said the mayor had been taken into custody on a judicial order after citizens filed court papers accusing him of failing to take appropriate measures,which could have included picking up garbage, to keep the city functioning during the protests.

Ceballos belongs to the Popular Will party, headed by Leopoldo López, a former mayor of a wealthy section of Caracas. López was jailed on President Nicolás Maduro’s orders more than a month ago on charges of instigating violence.

The other mayor, Enzo Scarano, who leads a municipality within the nation’s third-largest city, Valencia, was jailed Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled that he had not carried out an order to remove protesters’ barricades.

—William Neuman, The New York Times