Quote – Jeffrey Gunther, Cato Institute

The subprime mortgage market, which makes funds available to borrowers with impaired credit or little or no credit history, offers a good example of competition at work…To the contrary, it was lenders in the control group that refocused their efforts in line with the mid-1990s boom in lending in low-income neighborhoods. In fact, lending in low-income neighborhoods grew faster than other types of lending at institutions not covered by CRA, whereas low-income lending grew at the same rate as other types of lending activity for CRA-covered lenders. As a group, lenders not covered by CRA devoted a growing proportion of their home-purchase lending to low-income communities, with the community lending share of their loan portfolios rising from 11 percent in 1993 to 14.3 percent in 1997. In contrast, CRA-covered lenders, as a group, devoted about the same proportion of their home-purchase loans to low-income neighborhoods in 1997 as they did in 1993. In both years, their community-lending share was about 11.5 percent. Even though those institutions were subject to CRA, their lending in low-income communities grew no faster than other lending. Those results would not be expected if CRA were the impetus for increases in lending in low-income neighborhoods. The data, however, are consistent with deregulation and technological advances leading to lower information costs and increased competition in the mortgage market. Independent mortgage companies tend to have more leeway to specialize in relatively risky lending than their more conservative and more heavily regulated counterparts in the banking industry. It is not surprising, then, that independent companies took the lead in focusing on lending activity in the riskier segments of the mortgage market… The inescapable conclusion is that progress predicated on technology, financial innovation, and competition—not CRA—has broadened the U.S. financial services marketplace.

Jeffrey Gunther, “Should CRA stand for “Community Redundancy Act”, Regulation (Cato Institute) vol.2 no.3.

Wednesday, November 8, 2000