On Friday the government laid out higher standards for the 19 distressed banks, after taking the stress tests, requiring them to raise more cash and meet stricter standards.

Once these requirements are met, the government will be willing to come in and give them further help they may need.

Federal Reserve officials and bank executives held undisclosed meetings coming up with preliminary conclusions on how each bank would fare if the recession got much worse.

It reinforced the Fed's view that major financial firms are too big to fail, and that the government must do whatever is necessary to save them.

It appears 'too big to fail' is a fundamental philosophy, said Mark Williams, a finance professor at Boston University and former Fed examiner, the Associated Press reported.

According to Fed officials the 19 stress tested banks would be required to maintain extra capital reserves beyond the currently required amount should losses continue to rise.

Banks will be closely watched by the Fed to ensure they have adequate levels of capital in place that could allow the bank to live through future losses on mortgages or other bad assets as the recession continues its rise.

The Fed is also using the results to determine which firms need to raise more money or take other action to strengthen their positions.

The results the stress tests are expected to be announced by government on May 4.