A pair of banks based in Ohio must begin increasing mortgage lending in minority neighborhoods in certain areas of Ohio and Indiana as part of a settlement with theDepartment of Justice, which accused the banks of “redlining.”
The DOJ defines redlining as a “discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions of denying or avoiding providing credit services to consumers because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives.”
In this case, the DOJ accused Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank, which are based in Cincinnati and share common ownership and management, of redlining “predominantly African-American” neighborhoods in Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; and Indianapolis.
The complaint alleged that from at least 2010 through 2014, the banks extended credit to the residents of predominantly white neighborhoods to a “significantly greater extent” than they extended credit to majority African-American neighborhoods in the same cities.
WASHINGTON—Bank stocks have surged since the election on hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will roll back financial rules. But deregulation, for the biggest institutions at least, might come with a catch: tougher limits on borrowing.
Some influential voices in Mr. Trump’s world insist banks should, as a quid pro quo for rolling back some regulations, maintain higher capital—shareholders’ funds that act as a cushion against losses but can also curb profits.
“Between Trump’s populist victory and the calls for greater capital by…Republicans, it is far from given that the largest Wall Street banks would benefit from their reform efforts,” said Mark Calabria, a former adviser to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R. Ala.), and now a fellow at the free-market Cato Institute.
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A full reimbursement for clients who had ‘mortgage floors’ could cost banks billions in back payments
Spanish lenders might have to pay billions of euros back to borrowers after the European Union’s top court Wednesday ruled against the banks in a disputeover variable-rate mortgages.
The European Court of Justice ruled that borrowers in Spain are entitled to be fully reimbursed for excess interest payments on variable-rate mortgages. The ruling follows a 2013 decision by Spain’s top court that outlawed so-called “mortgage floors,” deeming them unfair to clients because banks didn’t clearly explain to borrowers the economic and legal consequences of having a downward limit on how far interest payments could fall.
However, the Spanish court ruling said banks had to stop enforcing the mortgage floors but didn’t have to reimburse clients for any excess interest payments before the date of the 2013 ruling. A full reimbursement, the judges wrote at the time, would have meant “a risk of serious disruption” to Spain’s economy.
[WALL STREET JOURNAL]
When Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs banker who helped administer the U.S. Treasury Department’s bailout program during the 2008 financial crisis, was appointed as President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, I commented on his intent to break up the big Wall Street banks
as either too good to be true, or a political smokescreen.
It’s also gratifying to see a Federal Reserve official voice some of the same ideas that my Bank Whistleblowers United
colleagues have voiced. BWU has also called for increased capital as one action item needed to avoid another financial crisis.
WASHINGTON-The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday warned banks about creating incentives tied to sales goals, underscoring its intention to keep a tight rein on banks in the aftermath of the phony-accounts scandal at Wells Fargo & Co.
In a special bulletin, the CFPB said incentives for employees and service providers “can pose risks to consumers, especially when they create an unrealistic culture of high-pressure targets.”
The watchdog agency laid out steps that banks should take to strengthen their compliance management systems to prevent and detect incentives that could lead to violations of the law.
The CFPB said that in addition to opening accounts without customer consent, banks could violate consumer financial law through behaviors caused by unchecked incentives, such as misrepresenting product benefits to customers or steering consumers toward less favorable products or terms.
Banks in the U.S. have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Higher rates on mortgages aren’t necessarily on the list.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed conforming mortgage has risen to 4.16%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, up from post-Brexit lows around 3.6%. Higher rates normally are good for lenders as they help them earn more on loans. Mortgages are a special case. Most are sold off to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and then packaged into securities. The portion held by banks stands at just a third.
Higher rates also suppress refinancing, which means fewer one-time gains for banks that make loans and sell them. For holders of mortgage-backed securities, though, this is positive. Fewer will be repaid early. As the heaviest holder of such securities among major banks, Bank of America should be the biggest beneficiary.
Ironically, though, after getting pounded by ultralow rates over the summer, BofA changed accounting policies so that quarterly earnings will be less affected. Now it will appear to benefit less from the rebound, though the impact is fundamentally unchanged.
The corporate regulator has written to banks asking them to review their cross-selling practices to ensure Australia doesn’t have a Wells Fargo-type problem.
Wells Fargo based in San Francisco has been embroiled in a phony-accounts scandal which has been blamed on its practice of offering employees incentives based to opening new accounts.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft told a parliamentary committee hearing on Friday that he had in the last week written to the the big four banks plus Suncorp, Citi, HSBC and Bank of Queensland to ask them to audit their cross-selling activities.
Cross-sellling refers to the sale of different types of products to existing customers.
A customer with a savings account might be encouraged to buy superannuation, loan and insurance products from the same bank, for example.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/banks-told-to-audit-crossselling-in-wake-of-wells-fargo-scandal-20161124-gsx7ib#ixzz4Qzd3BBo6