Category Archives: bank regulation

Make *real* banking reform work for communities

Freedman's Bank Texas bank US bank reforms Charles Cooper

Texas bank regulator Charles Cooper discusses the plight of community banks and small-business lending in a cogent article for the Express-News, reprinted by permission.

AS A STATE REGUATOR, [I've found] nothing is more evident than how community banks impact Main Street America — in Texas and across the country. They are deeply invested in the community where their customers live and work, helping local businesses and residents, and generating economic growth from the bottom up.

Collectively these banks are responsible for almost half of all small business lending and three-quarters of all agricultural lending in the United States. At a time when the big banks offer cookie-cutter solutions and some are pulling back on their local presence, it is good to know that our citizens can rely on the local community bank that better understands their needs.

But in recent years, community banks have been hampered by regulations defined at the federal level. After the U.S. financial crisis nearly a decade ago, federal policymakers focused on how regulation could head off future crises. And so, a large number of new regulations and procedures were adopted.

Texas banking regulation Charles Cooper US bank reform Dodd-FrankThere was just one problem: Many new rules addressing too-big-to-fail institutions also applied to community banks that posed no systemic risk to taxpayers.

Due to this increased complexity, compliance costs have increased for community banks. A recent study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank estimates community banks spend about $4.6 billion every year in regulatory compliance. These higher costs have been a contributing factor to a decline in the number of banks, in turn limiting access to credit and banking services for consumers.

IN TEXEAS, WE HAVE gone from 644 banks in 2009 to 464 today.

Fortunately, there is an opportunity to solve this problem. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Financial Services Committee chairman is Texas’ own Jeb Hensarling, who has jump-started congressional efforts to right-size regulation for a post-crisis environment.

As Texans, we should be proud one of our own is playing such a critical role at the federal level.

In addition, similar reform efforts are underway in the Senate. Combined, these developments offer hope that regulatory reforms just might make their way into law.

Perhaps the best place to start is where there is bipartisan support. In my recent visit to Washington, D.C., I met with members of the Texas delegation and others in Congress. The one unifying topic — regulatory right-sizing for community banks.

WHAT COULD REFORM look like?

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors, whose members regulate 78 percent of all U.S. banks, supports creating a common definition for a community bank, and then exempting all those that qualify from federal rules aimed at bigger and more complex banks.

Such a definition — based on a combination of factors such as assets, local ownership and lending in the community — would enable legislators and regulators alike to create a regulatory regime tailored for community banks.

This idea of a community bank definition, and the accompanying right-sized regulation, is not a novel one.

US bank failures by state FDIC mapThe Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. uses a common definition to perform its community bank research.

Governors at the Federal Reserve Board support applying different rules for big and small banks.

In an executive order, President Donald Trump recently directed his administration to make sure that regulation is “effective, efficient and appropriately tailored” for financial institutions.

When folks head in the same direction, you tend to get results. With the political winds in Washington favoring community banks, I am optimistic we can achieve common-sense regulation that permits community banks to do what they do best — serve their communities.

Charles G. Cooper is commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking and chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.

Casualty rates slow, but casualties mount (an update)

US banking failures Freedman's Bank Bankrate.com

The good news is, big banks have been bailed out (cc: US Taxpayer, $700 billion), and small bank failure rates slowed in 2016 and so far in 2017….

the bad news is, U.S. policy drove nearly half such banks out of business from 2009 to 2016, and there appears to be no relief in sight for the institutions that supply most of the capital to small businesses.

Click here for Bankrate.com’s list
of the banking casualties since 2009

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Too big to be the cause….
3 1/2 cheers for Peter Wallison

For nearly seven years, analysts have run circles around the bailout of large banks, automakers, and other firms deemed too big to fail during the 2008 financial crisis.

And while no one denies the economic importance of these institutions, it may be that when it comes to understanding the U.S. economic malaise in the years since, these actors are, in a sense, “too big to be the cause” as well.

That’s the conclusion we’re coming to based on the work of economist Peter Wallison in his persuasive book, Hidden in Plain Sight. (Reviewed here by The Wall Street Journal.)

A more likely culprit is the fate of small- and medium- sized banks over the same time period, under the disproportionately large burden imposed on them by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

It’s a classic truism that smaller institutions have higher average costs dealing with regulation. They must meet the fixed cost of dealing with all those rules and bureaucrats just like any large bank. But they may not spread the overall cost efficiently over a balance sheet in the billions or trillions…

Furthermore, small businesses still (at least up until this recovery) account for an estimated 80-90 percent of new jobs.

And, because they come nowhere close to meeting the capital requirements for listing on a stock exchange or even for most private offerings, small businesses are almost completely reliant on banks for their financing needs.

Hence the squeeze placed on smaller financial institutions is especially painful to growth and opportunity, a double whammy.

It’s an important topic, one we keep coming back to because it’s so near and dear to the Freedman’s Mission.

Dodd-Frank’s continuing Legacy

It is now five years since President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act, continuing the work begun by the bank bailouts of 2008-2009 –

which critics argue includes putting the squeeze on small banks and the small- and medium-sized firms that used to rely on them.

“Dodd-Frank’s backers in Congress and other members of the left touted the regulation as a means of helping Main Street over Wall Street,” writes Carrie Sheffield in Forbes
“Yet the number of community banks fell by 40 percent since 1994, and their share of U.S. banking assets fell by more than half – from 41 percent to 18 percent.

“In contrast, the biggest banks saw their share of assets rise from 18 percent to 46 percent. And while the number of community banks already declined before the crisis, since the second quarter of 2010 – Dodd-Frank’s passage – community banks have lost market share at a rate double what they did between Q2 2006 and Q2 2010: 12 percent vs. 6 percent.”

Dodd-Frank’s regulatory burdens, another critic argues, “are driving consolidation, and could result in lending markets less able to serve core economic demands.” Particularly troubling, according to lead author Marshall Lux, a senior fellow at HKS’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and senior advisor at The Boston Consulting Group, “is community banks’ declining market share in several key lending markets, their decline in small business lending volume, and the disproportionate losses being realized by particularly small community banks.”