Community Reinvestment Act

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The Community Reinvestment Act (or CRA, Pub.L. 95-128, title VIII, 91 Stat. 1147, 12 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq.) is a United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.[1][2][3] Congress passed the Act in 1977 to reduce discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining.[4][5] The Act requires the appropriate federal financial supervisory agencies to encourage regulated financial institutions to meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with safe and sound operation. (See full text of Act and current regulations.[1] To enforce the statute, federal regulatory agencies examine banking institutions for CRA compliance, and take this information into consideration when approving applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions.[6]

Redlining was originally based on HOLC "residential security maps".


[edit] Enforcement

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 seeks to address discrimination in loans made to individuals and businesses from low and moderate-income neighborhoods.[7] The Act mandates that all banking institutions that receive FDIC insurance be evaluated to determine if the institution is offering credit in communities in which the banks takes deposits, in a manner consistent with safe and sound operations.[3] The law does not list specific criteria for evaluating the performance of financial institutions. Rather, it directs that the evaluation process should accommodate the situation and context of each individual institution. The Federal regulations dictate agency conduct in evaluating an institution's compliance in the five performance areas, comprising the twelve assessment factors. This examination culminated in the assignment of a rating and the written report became part of the supervisory record for that institution.[8] The law, however, emphasizes that an institution's CRA activities should be undertaken in a safe and sound manner, and does not require institutions to make high-risk loans that may bring losses to the institution.[3][4] An institution's CRA compliance record is taken into account by the banking regulatory agencies when the institution seeks to expand through merger, acquisition or branching. The law does not mandate any other penalties for non-compliance with the CRA.[6][9]

[edit] Regulations

The same Federal Banking Agencies that are responsible for supervising depository institutions are also the agencies that conduct examinations for CRA compliance.[10] These agencies are the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). In 1981, to help achieve the goals of the CRA, each of the Federal Reserve banks established a Community Affairs Office to work with banking institutions and the public in identifying credit needs within the community and ways to address those needs.[6]

Implementation of the CRA by these financial supervisory agencies is enacted by Title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); Parts 25, 228, 345, and 563e with the addition of Part 203 as it relates to sections of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).[11]

Table I - Federal Agencies and the CRA's Corresponding CFR
Federal Financial Supervisory Agency   Code of Federal Regulations      e-CFR     Notes  
 Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  (OCC)    12. C.F.R. Part 25. et seq.  Link  [12] [13] [14] 
 Federal Reserve System  (FRB)  12. C.F.R. Part 228. et seq.  Link  [15] [16] [17] 
 12. C.F.R. Part 203. et seq.  Link  [18] [19] [20] 
 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation  (FDIC)  12. C.F.R. Part 345. et seq.  Link  [21] [22] [23] 
 Office of Thrift Supervision  (OTS)  12. C.F.R. Part 563e. et seq.  Link  [24] [25] [26] 

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) coordinates inter-agency information about the CRA.[27][11] Information about the CRA ratings of individual banking institutions from the four responsible agencies (Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC and OTS), is publicly available from the website of the FFIEC.[28] These ratings were first made available by the Clinton administration to enable public participation and public comment on CRA performance.[29]

[edit] History

The original Act was passed by the 95th United States Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 (Pub.L. 95-128, 12 U.S.C. ch.30).[30] Several legislative and regulatory revisions have since been enacted.

[edit] Legislative Revision History

The hidden table below lists the acts of Congress that affected the Community Reinvestment Act directly. The years in which the legislative revisions were made appear in bold text preceeding the Public Laws that enacted them. The links to the codification and section notes may provide additional information about the legislative changes as well.

[edit] Original Act

The CRA was passed as a result of national pressure to address the deteriorating conditions of American cities—particularly lower-income and minority neighborhoods.[4] Community activists, such as Gale Cincotta of National People's Action in Chicago, had led the national fight to pass, and later to enforce the Act.[31]

The CRA followed similar laws passed to reduce discrimination in the credit and housing markets including the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (HMDA). The Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or other personal characteristics. The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requires that financial institutions publicly disclose mortgage lending and application data. In contrast with those acts, the CRA seeks to ensure the provision of credit to all parts of a community, regardless of the relative wealth or poverty of a neighborhood.[32][33]

Before the Act was passed, there were severe shortages of credit available to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In their 1961 report, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that African-American borrowers were often required to make higher downpayments and adopt faster repayment schedules. The commission also documented blanket refusals to lend in particular areas (redlining).[34] The "redlining" of certain neighborhoods originated with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in the 1930s. The "residential security maps" created by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) for the FHA were used by private and public entities for years afterwards to withhold mortgage capital from neighborhoods that were deemed "unsafe".[35] Contributory factors in the shortage of direct lending in low- and moderate-income communities were a limited secondary market for mortgages, informational problems to do with the lack of credit evaluations for lower-income borrowers, and lack of coordination among credit agencies.[36][33][32]

In Congressional debate on the Act, critics charged that the law would create unnecessary regulatory burdens. Partly in response to these concerns, Congress included little prescriptive detail and simply directs the banking regulatory agencies to ensure that banks and savings associations serve the credit needs of their local communities in a safe and sound manner.[32][4] Community groups only slowly organized to take advantage of their right under the Act to complain about law enforcement of the regulations.[37]

Speaking in 2007, the 30th anniversary of the CRA, Ben Bernanke, Chair of the Federal Reserve System since 2006, stated that the high costs of gathering information, "may have created a 'first-mover' problem, in which each financial institution has an incentive to let one of its competitors be the first to enter an underserved market." Bernanke notes that at least in some instances, "the CRA has served as a catalyst, inducing banks to enter underserved markets that they might otherwise have ignored".[4]

[edit] Legislative changes 1989

The Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) was enacted by the 101st Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in the wake of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. As part of a general reform of the banking industry, it increased public oversight of the process of issuing CRA ratings to banks. It required the agencies to issue CRA ratings publicly and written performance evaluations using facts and data to support the agencies' conclusions. It also required a four-tiered CRA examination rating system with performance levels of 'Outstanding', 'Satisfactory', 'Needs to Improve', or 'Substantial Noncompliance'.[32]

According to Ben Bernanke, this law greatly increased the ability of advocacy groups, researchers, and other analysts to "perform more-sophisticated, quantitative analyses of banks' records," thereby influencing the lending policies of banks. Over time, community groups and nonprofit organizations established "more-formalized and more-productive partnerships with banks."[4]

[edit] Legislative changes 1992

Although not part of the CRA, in order to achieve similar aims the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored enterprises that purchase and securitize mortgages, to devote a percentage of their lending to support affordable housing.[4]

In October 2000, in order to expand the secondary market for affordable community-based mortgages and to increase liquidity for CRA-eligible loans, Fannie Mae committed to purchase and securitize $2 billion of "MyCommunityMortgage" loans.[38][39] In November 2000 Fannie Mae announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) would soon require it to dedicate 50% of its business to low- and moderate-income families." It stated that since 1997 Fannie Mae had done nearly $7 billion in CRA business with depository institutions, but its goal was $20 billion.[40] In 2001 Fannie Mae announced that it had acquired $10 billion in specially-targeted Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) loans more than one and a half years ahead of schedule, and announced its goal to finance over $500 billion in CRA business by 2010, about one third of loans anticipated to be financed by Fannie Mae during that period.[41]

[edit] Legislative changes 1994

The Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994, which repealed restrictions on interstate banking, listed the Community Reinvestment Act ratings received by the out-of-state bank as a consideration when determining whether to allow interstate branches.[42][43]

According to Bernanke, a surge in bank merger and acquisition activities followed the passing of the act, and advocacy groups increasingly used the public comment process to protest bank applications on Community Reinvestment Act grounds. When applications were highly contested, federal agencies held public hearings to allow public comment on the bank's lending record. In response many institutions established separate business units and subsidiary corporations to facilitate CRA-related lending. Local and regional public-private partnerships and multi-bank loan consortia were formed to expand and manage such CRA-related lending.[4]

[edit] Regulatory changes 1995

In July 1993, President Bill Clinton asked regulators to reform the CRA in order to make examinations more consistent, clarify performance standards, and reduce cost and compliance burden.[44] Robert Rubin, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, under President Clinton, explained that this was in line with President Clinton's strategy to "deal with the problems of the inner city and distressed rural communities". Discussing the reasons for the Clinton administration's proposal to strengthen the CRA and further reduce red-lining, Lloyd Bentsen, Secretary of the Treasury at that time, affirmed his belief that availability of credit should not depend on where a person lives, "The only thing that ought to matter on a loan application is whether or not you can pay it back, not where you live." Bentsen said that the proposed changes would "make it easier for lenders to show how they're complying with the Community Reinvestment Act", and "cut back a lot of the paperwork and the cost on small business loans".[29]

In 1995, the CRA regulations were substantially revised to address criticisms that the regulations, and the agencies' implementation of them through the examination process, were too process-oriented, burdensome, and not sufficiently focused on actual results. The agencies also changed the CRA examination process to incorporate these revisions.[32] Information about banking institutions' CRA ratings were made available via web page for public comment.[29] The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) also revised its regulations, allowing lenders subject to the CRA to claim community development loan credits for loans made to help finance the environmental cleanup or redevelopment of industrial sites when it was part of an effort to revitalize the low- and moderate-income community where the site was located.[45]

During March 1995 congressional hearings William A. Niskanen, chair of the Cato Institute, criticized the proposals for political favoritism in allocating credit and micromanagement by regulators, and that there was no assurance that banks would not be expected to operate at a loss. He predicted they would be very costly to the economy and banking system, and that the primary long term effect would be to contract the banking system. He recommended Congress repeal the Act.[46]

On May 4, 1995, the Federal financial supervisory agencies (the OCC, FRB, FDIC, and OTS) jointly finalized their amended regulations for implementing the Community Reinvestment Act in the Federal Register. The final amended regulations replaced the existing CRA regulations in their entirety.[47] (See "Notes" in Table I for specific changes)

Responding to concerns that the CRA would lower bank profitability, a 1997 research paper by economists at the Federal Reserve found that "[CRA] lenders active in lower-income neighborhoods and with lower-income borrowers appear to be as profitable as other mortgage-oriented commercial banks".[48] Concerns at the time over the 1995 regulatory change causing an increase in the inability of financial institutions to expand through mergers or acquisition due to regulatory denial based on poor CRA compliance were unfounded. Over the 1993-97 period, one regulatory agency, the Federal Reserve Board, actual approved more applications than the average percentages of those without a detailed CRA review taking place. Of the 1,100 merger or acquisition cases the FRB reviewed on average per year where the relevant institutions were subject to CRA, only 70 instances on average were indentified with potential CRA problems regardless of public opposition or internal reporting raising the concern. On average, 22 of these were ultimately identified as CRA compliance being the primary reason for both application withdrawal or FRB denial.[49]

Speaking in 2007, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke noted that, "managers of financial institutions found that these loan portfolios, if properly underwritten and managed, could be profitable" and that the loans "usually did not involve disproportionately higher levels of default".[4]

According to a 2000 United States Department of the Treasury study of lending trends in 305 U.S. cities between 1993 and 1998, $467 billion in mortgage credit flowed from CRA-covered lenders to low- and medium-income borrowers and areas. In that period, the total number of loans to poorer Americans by CRA-eligible institutions rose by 39% while loans to wealthier individuals by CRA-covered institutions rose by 17%. The share of total US lending to low and medium income borrowers rose from 25% in 1993 to 28% in 1998 as a consequence.[50]

In October 1997, First Union Capital Markets and Bear, Stearns & Co launched the first publicly available securitization of Community Reinvestment Act loans, issuing $384.6 million of such securities. The securities were guaranteed by Freddie Mac and had an implied "AAA" rating.[51][40] The public offering was several times oversubscribed, predominantly by money managers and insurance companies who were not buying them for CRA credit.[52]

[edit] Legislative changes 1999

In 1999 the Congress enacted and President Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the "Financial Services Modernization Act," which repealed the part of the Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited a bank from offering a full range of investment, commercial banking, and insurance services. The bill was killed in 1998 because Senator Phil Gramm wanted the bill to expand the number of banks which no longer would be covered by the CRA. He also demanded full disclosure of any financial deals which community groups had with banks, accusing such groups of "extortion".[53] In 1999 Senators Christopher Dodd and Charles E. Schumer broke another deadlock by forcing a compromise between Gramm and the Clinton administration which wanted to prevent banks from expanding into insurance or securities unless they were compliant with the CRA. In the final compromise, the CRA would cover bank expansions into new lines of business, community groups would have to disclose certain kinds of financial deals with banks, and smaller banks would be reviewed less frequently for CRA compliance.[54][55][56] On signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, President Clinton said that it, "establishes the principles that, as we expand the powers of banks, we will expand the reach of the [Community Reinvestment] Act".[57]

[edit] Regulatory changes 2005

In 2002 there was an inter-agency review of the effectiveness of the 1995 regulatory changes to the Community Reinvestment Act and new proposals were considered.[32] In 2003, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that dramatic changes in the financial services landscape had weakened the CRA, and that in 2003 less than 30 percent of all home purchase loans were subject to intensive review under the CRA.[58]

In early 2005, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) implemented new rules that – among other changes – allowed thrifts with over $1 billion in assets to meet their CRA obligations without regard to services for, or investments in, their communities. In April 2005, a contingent of Democratic Congressmen issued a letter protesting these changes, saying they undercut the ability of the CRA to "meet the needs of low and moderate-income persons and communities".[59] The changes were also opposed by community groups concerned that it would weaken the CRA.[60]

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of the Controller of the Currency put a new set of regulations into effect in September 2005.[61] The regulations included less restrictive new definitions of "small" and "intermediate small" banks.[4] "Intermediate small banks" were defined as banks with assets of less than $1 billion, which allows these banks to opt for examination as either a small bank or a large bank.[61] Currently banks with assets greater than $1.061 billion have their CRA performance evaluated according to lending, investment and service tests. The agencies use the Consumer Price Index to adjust the asset size thresholds for small and large institutions annually.[32]

[edit] Legislative changes 2008

With the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act into law, Pub.L. 110-315, on August 14, 2008, each appropriate Federal financial supervisory agency shall now consider, as a factor in assessing and taking into account the record of a financial institution's CRA compliance, any & all low-cost education loans provided by the financial institution to low-income borrowers. All the affected Federal financial supervisory agencies have one year after the date of enactment to issue rules in final form to implement the change into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) according to Title X, Subtitle C, Section 1031 of the Act.

[edit] Proposed regulatory changes

In 2007 Ben Bernanke suggested further increasing the presence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the affordable housing market to help banks fulfill their CRA obligations by providing them with more opportunities to securitize CRA-related loans.[62]

On February 13, 2008 the United States House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on the Community Reinvestment Act’s impact on the provision of loans, investments and services to under-served communities and its effectiveness. There were 15 witnesses from government and the private sector.[5]

On April 15, 2008 an FDIC official told the same committee that the FDIC was exploring offering incentives for banks to offer low-cost alternatives to payday loans. Doing so would allow them favorable consideration under their Community Reinvestment Act responsibilities. It had recently begun a two-year pilot project with an initial group of 31 banks.[63]

In March of 2009, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson introduced a bill to expand the scope of CRA to include non-bank financial institutions, such as credit unions. [64]

[edit] Controversies and criticisms

The effects of the Community Reinvestment Act on the housing markets are controversial for a number of reasons.

[edit] Effectiveness

Economists and financial people writing a Federal Reserve report, including Jeffrey W. Gunther, who also wrote a report on CRA for the Cato Institute, have wondered if the CRA was – or at least had become – irrelevant, because it was not needed to force banks to make profitable loans to a variety of borrowers.[65][66] In a 2003 research paper, economists at the Federal Reserve could not find clear evidence that the CRA increased lending and home ownership more in low income neighborhoods than in higher income ones.[67] A 2008 Competitive Enterprise Institute study resulted in a similar finding.[68] Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke has stated that an underlying assumption of the CRA – that more lending equals better outcomes for local communities – may not always be true. However, he also notes that at least in some instances, "the CRA has served as a catalyst, inducing banks to enter under-served markets that they might otherwise have ignored".[4]

The Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based policy and advocacy nonprofit, found in an analysis of 1996 Chicago-area survey data that low income areas still lagged behind in access to commercial loans. Most small business loans made by CRA regulated banks went to higher income areas; 16.6% in low-income areas, 18.4% in low- and moderate-income tracts; 21.8% in middle-income areas and 23.1% in upper-income areas.[69]

In a 1998 paper, Alex Schwartz of the Fannie Mae Foundation found that CRA agreements were "consistently successful in meeting their goals for mortgages, investments in low-income housing tax credits, grant giving to community-based organizations, and in opening (and keeping open) inner-city bank branches."[37] In a 2000 report for the US Treasury, several economists concluded that the CRA had the intended impact of improving access to credit for minority and low-to-moderate-income consumers.[70]

In a 2005 paper for the New York University Law Review, Michael S. Barr, professor at the University of Michigan Law School, presents evidence to demonstrate that the CRA had overcome market failures to increase access to credit for low-income, moderate-income, and minority borrowers at relatively low cost. He contends that the CRA is justified, has resulted in progress, and should be continued.[71]

Speaking to the February 2008 Congressional Committee on Financial Services hearing on the CRA, Sandra L. Thompson, Director of the Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection at the FDIC, lauded the positive impact of CRA, noting that, "studies have pointed to increases in lending to low- and moderate-income customers and minorities in the decades since the CRA's passage." She cited a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, that found that "data for 1993 through 2000 show home purchase lending to low- and moderate-income people living in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods grew by 94 percent – more than in any of the other income categories".[33]

In his statement before the same hearing, New York University economics professor Larry White stated that regulator efforts to "lean on" banks in vague and subjective ways to make loans is an "inappropriate instrument for achieving those goals." In a world of national banking enterprises, these policies are more likely to drive institutions out of neighborhoods. He stated that better ways to accomplish the goals would be vigorous enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, of antitrust laws to promote competition, and federal funding of worthy projects directly through an "on-budget and transparent process" like the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.[72]

[edit] Housing advocacy groups

CRA regulations give community groups the right to comment on or protest about banks' non-compliance with CRA.[7] Such comments could help or hinder banks' planned expansions. Groups at first only slowly took advantage of these rights.[37] Regulatory changes during the Bill Clinton administration allowed these community groups better access to CRA information and enabled them to increase their activities.[32][73][4]

In an article for the New York Post, economist Stan Liebowitz wrote that community activists intervention at yearly bank reviews resulted in their obtaining large amounts of money from banks, since poor reviews could lead to frustrated merger plans and even legal challenges by the Justice Department.[74] Michelle Minton noted that Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to ACORN at about the same time they were to apply for permission to merge and needed to comply with CRA regulations.[68]

According to the New York Times, some of these housing advocacy groups provided early warnings about the potential impact of lowered credit standards and the resulting unsupportable increase in real estate values they were causing in low to moderate income communities. Ballooning mortgages on rental properties threatened to require large rent increases from low and moderate income tenants that could ill afford them. [75]

Housing advocacy groups were also leaders in the fight against subprime lending in low- and moderate-income communities, "In fact, community advocates had been telling the Federal Reserve about the dangers of subprime lending since the 1990s", according to Inner City Press. "For example, Bronx-based Fair Finance Watch commented to the Federal Reserve about the practices of now-defunct non-bank subprime lender New Century, when U.S. Bancorp bought warrants for 24% of New Century's stock. The Fed, rather than take any action on New Century, merely waited until U.S. Bancorp sold off some of the warrants, and then said the issue was moot." However, subprime loans were so profitable, that they were aggressively marketed in low-and moderate-income communities, even over the objections and warnings of housing advocacy groups like ACORN.[76]

[edit] Predatory lending

In a 2002 study exploring the relationship between the CRA and lending looked at as predatory, Kathleen C. Engel and Patricia A. McCoy noted that banks could receive CRA credit by lending or brokering loans in lower-income areas that would be considered a risk for ordinary lending practices. CRA regulated banks may also inadvertently facilitate these lending practices by financing lenders. They also noted that CRA regulations, as then administered and carried out by Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC, did not penalize banks that engaged in these lending practices. They recommended that the federal agencies use the CRA to sanction behavior that either directly or indirectly increased predatory lending practices by lowering the CRA rating of any bank that facilitated in these lending practices.[77]

The FDIC has tried to address this issue by "stopping abusive practices through the examination process and supervisory actions; encouraging banks to serve all members and areas of their communities fairly; and providing information and financial education to help consumers make informed choices". FDIC policy currently states that "predatory lending can have a negative effect on a bank's CRA performance."[78]

[edit] Relation to 2008 financial crisis

Some economists, politicians and other commentators have charged that the CRA contributed in part to the 2008 financial crisis by encouraging banks to make unsafe loans. Others however, including the economists from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, dispute this contention. The Federal Reserve and the FDIC holds that empirical research has not validated any relationship between the CRA and the 2008 financial crisis.[79][80]

Economist Stan Liebowitz wrote in the New York Post that a strengthening of the CRA in the 1990s encouraged a loosening of lending standards throughout the banking industry. He also charges the Federal Reserve with ignoring the negative impact of the CRA.[74] In a commentary for CNN, Congressman Ron Paul, who serves on the United States House Committee on Financial Services, charged the CRA with "forcing banks to lend to people who normally would be rejected as bad credit risks."[81] In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Austrian school economist Russell Roberts wrote that the CRA subsidized low-income housing by pressuring banks to serve poor borrowers and poor regions of the country.[82] Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University, in an opinion piece for CNN, calls for “getting rid” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as policies like the Community Reinvestment Act that “pressure banks into subprime lending.”[83]

However, others dispute the involvement of the CRA in the subprime crisis. San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Governor Randall Kroszner has stated that the claim that "the law pushed banking institutions to undertake high-risk mortgage lending" was contrary to their experience, and that no empirical evidence had been presented to support the claim.[79] In a Bank for International Settlements (BIS) working paper, economist Luci Ellis concluded that "there is no evidence that the Community Reinvestment Act was responsible for encouraging the subprime lending boom and subsequent housing bust," relying partly on evidence that the housing bust has been a largely exurban event.[84] Others have also concluded that the CRA did not contribute to the financial crisis, for example, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair,[80] Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan,[85] Tim Westrich of the Center for American Progress,[86] Robert Gordon of the American Prospect,[87] Daniel Gross of Slate,[88] and Aaron Pressman from BusinessWeek.[89]

Some legal and financial experts note that CRA regulated loans tend to be safe and profitable, and that subprime excesses came mainly from institutions not regulated by the CRA. In the February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton,[90][57] stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates. Barr noted that institutions fully regulated by CRA made "perhaps one in four" sub-prime loans, and that "the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight".[91] According to Janet L. Yellen, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, independent mortgage companies made risky "high-priced loans" at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts; most CRA loans were responsibly made, and were not the higher-priced loans that have contributed to the current crisis.[92] A 2008 study by Traiger & Hinckley LLP, a law firm that counsels financial institutions on CRA compliance, found that CRA regulated institutions were less likely to make subprime loans, and when they did the interest rates were lower. CRA banks were also half as likely to resell the loans.[93] Emre Ergungor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that there was no statistical difference in foreclosure rates between regulated and less-regulated banks, although a local bank presence resulted in fewer foreclosures.[94]

During a 2008 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the financial crisis, including in relation to the Community Reinvestment Act, asked if the CRA provided the “fuel” for increasing subprime loans, former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines said it might have been a catalyst encouraging bad behavior, but it was difficult to know. Raines also cited information that only a small percentage of risky loans originated as a result of the CRA. Bob McTeer, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank from 1991 to 2004, said “There was a lot of pressure from Congress and generally everywhere to make homeownership affordable for poor and low-income people. Some mortgages were made that would not have ordinarily been made.” He also said “When a bank made a decision to purchase mortgaged-backed securities, they would somehow determine if some of them were in zip codes covered by the CRA, and therefore they could get CRA credit.”[95][96]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Text of Housing and Community Development Act of 1977 — Title VIII (Community Reinvestment)
  2. ^ Avery, Robert B.; Raphael W. Bostic, Glenn B. Canner (November 2000). "The Performance and Profitability of CRA-Related Lending". Economic Commentary. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Retrieved on 2008-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b c "Community Reinvestment Act". Federal Reserve Board (FRB). Retrieved on 2008-10-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Prepared Speech, The Community Reinvestment Act: Its Evolution and New Challenges". Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System. before the Community Affairs Research Conference. 2007-03-30. Federal Reserve System (FRB). 
  5. ^ a b “The Community Reinvestment Act: Thirty Years of Accomplishments, but Challenges Remain”, February 13, 2008
    This hearing before the full House Committee on Financial Services examined the impact of CRA on the provision of loans, investments and services to under-served communities. In addition to exploring CRA’s success, the hearing hoped to examine challenges that prevent the law from being more effective for the future. | Printed Hearing: 110-90(PDF}
  6. ^ a b c "The Community Reinvestment Act". Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Retrieved on 2008-10-06. 
  7. ^ a b Kavous Ardalan, Community Reinvestment Act: Review of Empirical Evidence, Academy of Banking Studies Journal, 2006.
  8. ^ "Prepared Speech, Footnote #8, The CRA: Its Evolution and New Challenges". Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System. before the Community Affairs Research Conference. 2007-03-30. Federal Reserve System (FRB). 
  9. ^ "Community Reinvestment Act: Background & Purpose". FFIEC. Retrieved on 2008-10-06. 
  10. ^ The Federal Banking Agency as defined under 12 U.S.C. 1813(z)
  11. ^ a b FFIEC Links to Federal Agency's CRA Regulations
  12. ^ "Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Information". Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  13. ^ "OCC Regulations (1995)". Federal Register - Vol.60, No.86. Government Printing Office. 1995-05-04. p. 22178. Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  14. ^ "Community Reinvestment Act and Interstate Deposit Production Regulations". Code of Federal Regulations, Title 12, Chapter I, Part 25. Government Printing Office (GPO). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  15. ^ "Community Reinvestment Act". Federal Reserve Board (FRB). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  16. ^ "Federal Reserve Regulations (1995) pt.1". Federal Register - Vol.60, No.86. Government Printing Office. 1995-05-04. p. 22189. Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  17. ^ "Community Reinvestment (Regulation BB)". Code of Federal Regulations, Title 12, Chapter II, Subchapter A, Part 228. Government Printing Office (GPO). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  18. ^ "Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Information". Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  19. ^ "Federal Reserve Regulations (1995) pt.2". Federal Register - Vol.60, No.86. Government Printing Office. 1995-05-04. p. 22223. Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  20. ^ "Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C)". Code of Federal Regulations, Title 12, Chapter II, Subchapter A, Part 203. Government Printing Office (GPO). Retrieved on 2009-04-16. 
  21. ^ "Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Background". Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Retrieved on 2009-04-17. 
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