Main Street Lenders Choked by Regulators
By Robert Barone of Ancora West Advisors
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The banking landscape is rapidly changing. We had 126 bank failures in 2009, and, through May 7, 2010, there have been 68 additional closures. Sheila Bair, FDIC Chairwoman, has indicated that we can expect a significant number of additional failures for the next few years.
The system that America got used to from 1990 through 2007 where credit was easy to get and consumption and investment grew as a result, has disappeared. In its place is emerging a system that is 180 degrees opposed. Those that are "Too Big to Fail" are getting bigger. Meanwhile, the small community bank, the source of working capital for America's small businesses, is being choked by the regulatory system.
Ask any CEO of a community financial institution who he/she works for -- the answer won't be the Board of Directors or the Shareholders -- inevitably, the answer will be the regulator (FDIC, OCC, Fed, OTS). It appears that, having failed to detect the subprime, housing and derivative bubbles (which emanated from Wall Street), the regulatory agencies have decided to get tough on Main Street lenders.Never mind that community institutions didn't participate in the subprime debacle or didn't sell synthetic securities to their clients while simultaneously taking short positions. And, ignore the $20 billion of capital that these institutions lost at the flick of the Treasury Secretary's magic wand (FNMA and FHLMC preferred stock). If you want to figure out why the economy cannot find solid footing, look no further than the way the regulators are treating commercial real estate loans in community bank portfolios.
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