Banking and Credit

Banking and Credit

Since the Great Depression, Congress has passed a series of laws to preserve stability in the banking and credit industries, protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices and make affordable credit available to middle class and low-income families and small businesses.  Beginning in the 1980s, the deregulation of financial institutions has fed speculative booms and devastating busts. Privatization of low-cost government credit for student loans and mortgages and weaker consumer protections has driven up the cost of credit and put consumers at risk.

Commentary

Information is power… and that’s the problem

May 02, 2012

Why #OccupyWallStreet?

October 07, 2011

The Truth in Lending Act, 1968: Don't Confuse People With Information

May 18, 2011
Debt burden

Credit Card Sharks Crying Wolf

May 20, 2009

Cry Wolf Quotes

The important question, however, is not the default rates on the mortgages made under the CRA. Whatever those rates might be, they were not sufficient to cause a worldwide financial crisis. Once these standards were relaxed--particularly allowing loan-to-value ratios higher than the 80 percent that had previously been the norm--they spread rapidly to the prime market and to subprime markets where loans were made by lenders other than insured banks.

-
Peter Wallison, AEI Online

One cannot say with any certainty whether the more important cause of the current housing crisis was affordable-housing mandates or the actions of investment banks and ratings agencies. There can be no doubt, however, that both contributed. With that in mind, the best way to make sure that we don’t repeat our mistakes is to examine — and change — both… If the Community Reinvestment Act must stay in force, then regulators should take loan performance, not just the number of loans made, into account. We have seen the dangers of too much money chasing risky borrowers.

-
Howard Husock, New York Times.

The problem with the Community Reinvestment Act is not its goals but its vagueness and ambiguity that have led to a nightmare of documentation, paperwork and formalized process that diverts bankers' time and bank resources from being utilized to serve our communities… we need to build a system of supervision and enforcement that encourages creativity and substance in community reinvestment lending.

-
Michael K. Guttau, National Mortgage News

There’s little doubt that the rating agencies helped inflate the housing bubble. But when we round up all the culprits, we shouldn’t ignore the regulators and affordable-housing advocates who pushed lenders to make loans in low-income neighborhoods for reasons other than the only one that makes sense: likely repayment… in 1995 the Clinton administration added tough new regulations. The federal government required banks that wanted 'outstanding' ratings under the act to demonstrate, numerically, that they were lending both in poor neighborhoods and to lower-income households. Banks were now being judged not on how their loans performed but on how many such loans they made. This undermined the regulatory emphasis on safety and soundness.

-
Howard Husock, New York Times.

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

A Timeline of the CARD Act

An interactive timeline of credit card reform.

Resources

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition works against unfair lending and banking practices, particularly those targeted towards low and middle income families.