Monday, December 03, 2007


A crise das "subprime" veio colocar na ordem do dia a questão da democratização do crédito nos EUA. O artigo que a seguir se transcreve é muito elucidativo acerca da evolução que o crédito pessoal e para habitação nos últimos 30 anos e das consequências (algumas bem curiosas) que um discreto diploma legal da administração Carter veio a determinar.
The Democratization of Credit

Often lost in the finger-pointing that has accompanied the implosion of the subprime mortgage market is the fact that the democratization of credit historically has been one of the most powerful forces for economic progress in this country.

Thirty years ago, Congress passed and President Jimmy Carter signed the Community Reinvestment Act. It was ushered into law with little fanfare and has received little notice since. Yet in the span of just one generation, the law has virtually transformed America's cities and neighborhoods.

The act sought to address a practice common in the banking industry in the 1960s and 1970s known as redlining -- denying credit to people based on their neighborhood, race, marital status, last name and a lot of other indicators that served as false proxies for "too risky." Redlining was racist, sexist, deeply unfair and, as our industry would later learn, bad business.

The CRA ended this practice. By obligating banks to pursue lending opportunities within their local service areas, it prevented them from taking a community's deposits while ignoring its needs. In the 1990s, regulatory agencies strengthened the CRA by establishing strict compliance tests for a bank's lending, investment and service activities. Meeting those tests became a prerequisite for approval of mergers and acquisitions. As the merger market intensified, so too did banks' attention to the CRA.

Thirty years ago, no one could have expected the vast structural changes that have taken place in the financial services industry. Many nonbank entities perform similar services, and they should be asked to share the responsibilities. Our nation will be all the stronger if greater resources are brought to bear to eliminate predatory lending, expand financial literacy products to secure families' financial futures.
Together, home and business ownership build immense social capital. They begin a cycle of wealth creation, neighborhood stability -- even educational achievement. A recent study showed that children of homeowners outperformed children of renters on math tests by 9 percent and on reading tests by 7 percent, with other factors held constant. Seen this way, CRA-generated ownership has helped provide an economic corollary to the Civil Rights Act.
... In a nationwide survey conducted by the
Federal Reserve, 98 percent of large residential lenders reported that their CRA loans were profitable. Within that group, 24 percent found them as profitable as or more profitable than conventional loans. Unexpectedly, banks came to see CRA communities as emerging markets.

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