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Fed didn’t bark at subprime loan abuses

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Binyamin Appelbaum
Washington Post
Monday, Sept 28th, 2009

The visits had a ritual quality. Three times a year, a coalition of Chicago community groups met with the Federal Reserve and other banking regulators to warn about the growing prevalence of abusive mortgage lending.

They began to present research in 1999 showing that large banking companies including Wells Fargo and Citigroup had created subprime businesses wholly focused on making loans at high interest rates, largely in the black and Hispanic neighborhoods to the south and west of downtown Chicago.

The groups pleaded for regulators to act.

The evidence eventually led Illinois to file suit against Wells Fargo in July for discrimination and other abuses.

But during the years of the housing boom, the pleas failed to move the Fed, the sole federal regulator with authority over the businesses. Under a policy quietly formalized in 1998, the Fed refused to police lenders’ compliance with federal laws protecting borrowers, despite repeated urging by consumer advocates across the country and even by other government agencies.

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This article was posted: Monday, September 28, 2009 at 10:29 am





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