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Carl White

Small Business Lending Gives a Boost to Banks

The recession that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic has hit most sectors of the U.S. economy hard, and commercial banks are no exception. Through the first half of 2020, profits sharply declined from their year-ago levels as banks worked with loan customers through deferrals and modifications, new loan demand fell, and banks set aside more funds for anticipated losses.

Those trends were true of both community banks and their larger counterparts to varying degrees within the District and nationally.

10/1/2020 Read more about Small Business Lending Gives a Boost to Banks

The last several months have been challenging ones for all of us, both personally and professionally. We’ve all had to adjust, especially when it comes to getting essential work done. For the Federal Reserve and other bank regulators, the challenge has been to maintain close oversight of our financial institutions and to assist banks as they work to keep credit flowing to their customers. It’s been a delicate balancing act, but one that appears to be working well thus far.

Banks serving hemp producers no longer have to automatically fill out reports used to detect money laundering activities. This reduction in regulatory burden can be traced to the 2018 farm bill (officially titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), which legalized hemp by removing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Properly licensed industrial hemp producers can now be treated the same as other bank commercial customers for anti-money-laundering regulatory purposes.

Since the end of the financial crisis more than a decade ago, lawmakers and regulators have worked to balance the needs of a growing, vibrant financial services sector with the regulations necessary to ensure a safe and sound one. In some ways, much has been achieved. The nation’s largest banking organizations are now subject to substantially higher capital and liquidity requirements. They are also regularly “stress tested” to understand the effects on capital should economic conditions deteriorate significantly.

At the same time, efforts are continuing to alleviate the regulatory burden faced by smaller banking organizations. Beginning this year, those that meet certain qualifications can opt into a simplified regulatory capital framework. The framework—dubbed the community bank leverage ratio (CBLR)—went into effect Jan. 1. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimates that more than three-quarters of all community banks will qualify to opt in.



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Take Five is a popular video series featuring St. Louis Fed economist Dr. Bill Emmons. In each video, Emmons provides a quick, concise synopsis of the most recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).