Patience at the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Fed has run out. Citing their investments in bank capital, guarantees of deposit accounts, and backup liquidity program, the agencies issued a joint statement this morning calling on banks to start lending money to creditworthy corporations and individuals.
“The agencies expect all banking organizations to fulfill their fundamental role in the economy as intermediaries of credit to businesses, consumers, and other creditworthy borrowers,” they said in the interagency statement.
What’s more, the agencies asserted, the banks will have to provide credit to fill in a lending gap previously filled by investors in securities. Further, while banks must continue to be prudent about their lending practices, “if underwriting standards tighten excessively or banking organizations retreat from making sound credit decisions, the current market conditions may be exacerbated,” the agencies said.
The statement also tells banks to be careful about the levels of cash dividends they issue, gauge whether modifying a home loan could provide more value than foreclosing on it, and to make sure the amounts they pay executives match their goals. The full text of the statement follows.
The Department of the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve have recently put into place several programs designed to promote financial stability and to mitigate procyclical effects of the current market conditions. These programs make new capital widely available to U.S. financial institutions, broaden and increase the guarantees on bank deposit accounts and certain liabilities, and provide backup liquidity to U.S. banking organizations. These efforts are designed to strengthen the capital foundation of our financial system and improve the overall functioning of credit markets.
The ongoing financial and economic stress has highlighted the crucial role that prudent bank lending practices play in promoting the nation’s economic welfare. The recent policy actions are designed to help support responsible lending activities of banking organizations, enhance their ability to fund such lending, and enable banking organizations to better meet the credit needs of households and business. At this critical time, it is imperative that all banking organizations and their regulators work together to ensure that the needs of creditworthy borrowers are met. As discussed below, to support this objective, consistent with safety and soundness principles and existing supervisory standards, each individual banking organization needs to ensure the adequacy of its capital base, engage in appropriate loss mitigation strategies and foreclosure prevention, and reassess the incentive implications of its compensation policies.
Lending to creditworthy borrowers
The agencies expect all banking organizations to fulfill their fundamental role in the economy as intermediaries of credit to businesses, consumers, and other creditworthy borrowers. Moreover, as a result of problems in financial markets, the economy will likely become increasingly reliant on banking organizations to provide credit formerly provided or facilitated by purchasers of securities. Lending to creditworthy borrowers provides sustainable returns for the lending organization and is constructive for the economy as a whole.