U.S. regulators told top banks on Thursday to raise $74.6 billion to build a capital cushion officials hope will restore faith in financial firms and set a course out of the deepest recession in decades.

The results of bank stress tests -- which involved more than 150 regulatory officials poring over the books of the 19 largest firms -- effectively drew a line between healthy and weak, and quantified exactly how much those institutions struggling under the weight of souring loans must raise.

The bank reviews, led by the Federal Reserve, showed 10 banks needed additional capital to withstand heavier losses that would likely come if the recession worsened.

Bank of America Inc had the largest need at $33.9 billion, while Wells Fargo needed $13.7 billion, GMAC needed $11.5 billion, and Citigroup Inc needed $5.5 billion.

The Obama administration hopes the firms can fill the capital holes from private sources, although Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the government was prepared to help if needed.

Our government, through the Treasury Department, stands ready to provide whatever additional capital may be necessary to ensure that our banking system is able to navigate a challenging economic downturn, Bernanke said in a statement.