Acting Comptroller Discusses Bank Mergers

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The Acting Comptroller of the Currency says there is a need to update the frameworks used to analyze bank merger applications. In a speech before the Brookings Institution on Monday, Michael Hsu discussed proposed mergers in the context of bank competition, financial stability, and facilitating the needs of communities. “Bank mergers have received significant attention this past year. Concerns about the negative effects of bank mergers on competition, communities, and financial stability have prompted some to call for a moratorium on merger activity,” Hsu said. “In response, others have defended the benefits of mergers. They note that the U.S. financial services market is highly competitive, and mergers allow institutions to achieve needed economies of scale and to…

Biden-Harris Tackle Equity In Lending And Appraisals

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Vice President Kamala Harris joined officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday to announce the delivery of a plan designed to dismantle racial bias in the home lending and appraisal process. The Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) Action Plan submitted to President Joe Biden will, when enacted, represent the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process, according to a press release. During her speech, Harris described how a home ensures future financial security and peace of mind for families. “Imagine a young couple that saves enough money to put a down payment on a home. The day they…

Unfair Discrimination In Consumer Finance Targeted

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is targeting discrimination and officials there plan to closely examine financial institutions’ decision-making practices to ensure companies are appropriately testing for and eliminating potential harm to customers. On Wednesday, an updated exam manual was published for evaluating unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts or practices. Officials said in a press release that discrimination can occur in cases where the conduct may be covered by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act – a fair lending law that covers extensions of credit – as well as instances where it does not. The example of being denied a checking account due to race was used as an example of a discriminatory practice. “When a person is denied…

Race-Based Lending: The Right Way to Promote Social Justice?

By JARED WHITLEY The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) has announced a lending program for minority-owned businesses it calls “Economic Justice Loans,” with the stated goal of helping historically underserved populations build generational wealth. The political-progressive organization’s action raises the question of whether people of color are still being denied access to credit in 2022. “This lending model provides the foundation for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional lending,” NACA’s founder and CEO Bruce Marks said in a press release. “We have learned that if you build it, they will come. NACA’s Best in America Mortgage targeting underserved communities started with a few million dollars in commitments and now has over $20 billion. We expect the same outcome with extraordinary terms…

Getting Pushed Out Of The Housing Market? You’re Not Alone

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Low-income and minority buyers will continue to be crowded out of the housing market in 2022, according to the director of research at the AEI Housing Center. The American Enterprise Institute is located in Washington, D.C., and during a webinar on Monday, Director of Research Tobias Peter said entry-level homebuyers are being replaced by borrowers with higher incomes in many markets. “When we tally up the entry-level share of all home sales, we’re finding that the entry-level, as of December of 2021, accounted for 52.7%, which is, of course, much down from before the pandemic. In December of 2019, it was at 59.9%, and when we started tracking this back in 2012, it was at 71%,” Peter…

Racial Bias in Mortgage Biz? New Data Says No, Researchers Find

By Randall Bloomquist In the mortgage public-policy cosmos, studies alleging racial bias in lending are like comets. They blaze across the industry skyline on a regular basis, drawing attention from the media and outrage from fair housing activists. The latest flare came from a report alleging Black applicants are nearly twice as likely to be denied a conventional mortgage as compared to White applicants with similar financial profiles. The study, which claims to advance the case for widespread lending discrimination through the analysis of newly available data about loan applicants, was generated by the non-profit investigative website The Mark-Up in partnership with the Associated Press. But according to some industry analysts, The Mark-Up’s j’accuse! moment comes up short. Those data crunchers say the…

Investigation Finds Freddie and Fannie Algorithm Negatively Impacts Borrowers of Color

An investigation by The Markup found that lenders in 2019 were more likely to reject loan requests from people of color than white people, even if their finances looked much the same. The Markup examined more than 2 million conventional mortgage applications using statistical analysis that held 17 factors steady to account for explanations traditionally used to explain racial disparities in lending: the borrower’s credit history, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. According to The Markup, the bias was evident in the credit scoring algorithm “Classic FICO,” which was developed in the 1990s. Fannie and Freddie require lenders to use Classic FICO to determine whether an applicant meets their minimum threshold. Classic FICO focuses on traditional credit but does…