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 Community Reinvestment Act does not appear to have had any positive effect on lending to residents of LMI neighborhoods. In fact, it appears to have had a negative effect on CRA lenders and LMI residents alike… While both CRA- and non-CRA lenders have increased the number of loans to low-income borrowers, the financial soundness of CRA-covered institutions decreases the better they conform to the CRA.

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Michelle Minton, Competitive Enterprise Institute

…the government has used regulatory and political pressure to force banks and other government-controlled or regulated private entities to make loans they would not otherwise make and to reduce lending standards so more applicants would have access to mortgage financing… the CRA was used to pressure banks into making loans they would not otherwise have made and to adopt looser lending standards that would make mortgage loans possible for individuals who could not meet the down payment and other standards that had previously been applied routinely by banks and other housing lenders... a law that was originally intended to encourage banks to use safe and sound practices in lending now required them to be innovative and flexible--a clear requirement for the relaxation of lending standards.

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Peter Wallison, AEI Online

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.

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Jeffrey Gunther, Cato Institute

The bill would, for instance, prohibit card companies from changing the rates they charge ‘at any time, for any reason.’ Translation: instead of a borrower’s interest rate varying up and down, it will just stay up. Or fees will rise, to offset issuers’ loss of pricing flexibility.

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Thomas Brown, Bankstocks.com.

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.