The latest data on home lending to minorities shows government efforts to end bias in the banking system are unfinished, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig said Tuesday.
Growth in loans to blacks cooled to 3.1% in 1996-the lowest in five years-while rejection rates rose to a historic high, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data released Monday. Mr. Ludwig said he was "quite troubled" by that news despite "impressive gains" in lending to Hispanics and Native Americans.
"Let there be no doubt about it: We have zero tolerance for lending discrimination," Mr. Ludwig told the annual convention of the National Urban League.
The comptroller said his office is combing through the data and will produce a report in two months that could recommend corrective action.
Some economists suggest lenders are seriously considering more applications than in the past, he said, but others say more minority applicants lack good credit histories, which could mean they are being shut out of other types of loans. If so, Mr. Ludwig said, "it says that the discrimination of the past continues to perpetuate itself."
The comptroller also renewed his call to extend Community Reinvestment Act standards to nonbanks.