Don’t Repeal the CRA. Expand It.

In 1977, Congress passed (and President Jimmy Carter signed) the Community Reinvestment Act to reduce discrimination in lending.

Specifically, many banks were ignoring creditworthy, qualified borrowers in low-income, mostly-minority neighborhoods — a practice known as “redlining.” If banks were going to accept federal deposit insurance and access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window, the least they could do was make credit available to everyone who deserved it, regardless of where they lived or what color their skin was.

The CRA empowered regulators to “encourage” banks to lend to these borrowers — if they were just as likely to repay as borrowers receiving loans in other communities. The law didn’t specify how to encourage this behavior, so it took awhile for regulators to figure out how to enforce it.   Continue reading “Don’t Repeal the CRA. Expand It.”