BankAmerica Corp. and other large institutions have pledged billions of dollars to community lending in the past year after announcing big takeovers. But such mega-pledges often have a lot more sizzle than steak, according to some regulators and consultants.

"We look at them more as publicity, in many cases," said Ronald N. Zimmerman, a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. "We recognize that a lot of what [banks] say they're going to do, they're already doing. I guess they're hoping to avoid protests that way."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.