Community Bankers Go to the White House. And That's About It
Community bankers got their first exclusive meeting Tuesday with President Barack Obama amid an intensifying fight within the industry over legislation that would tighten federal financial regulation.
Mr. Obama used the White House parley with executives from smaller banks to reiterate his push for bankers to do more lending to small businesses. "The pendulum may have swung too far in the direction of not lending," Mr. Obama said, adding that the White House is working on ways to cut "red tape" that banks complain is making it harder to lend. He suggested the White House wouldn't intervene with federal regulators though, which many bankers complain are being too strict.
"We don't have direct influence over our independent regulators," Mr. Obama said. A top focus for the White House in the coming months will be to push for more lending, he said, and that can only be done with the cooperation of financial institutions.
But getting bankers to sing from the same hymnal won't be easy. Two bankers' groups, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America, are challenging each other, and delivering competing messages on Capitol Hill as Congress weighs a wide-ranging overhaul of financial industry regulation. The ABA and ICBA both claim to speak for "community banks," but they took starkly different positions on a recent House bill. The ICBA supported it, while the ABA opposed it.
The spat among bankers promises to become nastier as the Senate takes up the bill.
"The name-calling is really partly a strategy to build their brands against each other, and I think it's foolish," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. PIRG, a coalition of consumer groups that frequently fights against the banking industry. "To the extent that it hurts them, it's great that they are fighting with each other and using up their bandwidth."
Now maybe I'm wrong but if I were one of those community bankers, I would have walked away from that meeting thinking that OMGObama and crew don't give a flying rat's ass about my community bank and don't have the cojones to do anything about regulators pressing hard on the little guys.
But that's just me.
Where's a real community banker when I need one to comment on this? Paging my #bankfailfriday partner in crime, oh @dmgerbino! Surely you have something to say about this?
Update: boy does he ever. David left such an extensive comment that I will just have to repost here in the body of this article, lest you miss his commentary. Who ya gonna trust? Obama or a living breathing member of team community banker? That's what I thought:
I, David Gerbino, speaking as a resident of New York State, know several people who have small businesses. All are doing well and one is having the best year ever. None of them want a loan. Why? The state of the economy. If they are telling me the truth, their financial conditions and credit ratings will support a loan approval. The ones who could use the loan for growth just do not want to take the risk. There is nothing wrong with that. No one person can change the opinion of a business owner. Not even President Obama.
Speaking as a member of the Community Banker family, why would Obama want to speak with us and tell us we should lend. Dude, just read the news, we are taking care of business:
1) Community Banks Increase Small Business Loans - http://www.businessweek.com/
2) ICBA: Community Banks Continue Lending to Small Businesses - http://www.icba.org/news/
3) Megabanks Denied Your Loan?
Tapping community banks may be the best way to take advantage of falling interest rates. - http://www.inc.com/news/
4) Small Banks Really Want Your Business - http://smallbusiness.aol.com/
5) Loan program aims to help Ulster County’s small businesses - http://www.dailyfreeman.com/
I could go on and on.
In closing, it is nice to have a cheerleader in your corner. Thank you President Obama for cheering for Community Banks.
Really what could I possibly add to that? Not my jurisdiction.