WASHINGTON - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Monday approved new regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act, a reform completed last week by the other banking agencies.
Though stiff proposed reporting requirements were softened in the final rules, FDIC Vice Chairman Andrew C. Hove Jr. insisted that regulators are still asking for more information than the law allows.
"With one exception at the Fed, I think I'm the only bank regulator who has been examined for compliance with CRA," Mr. Hove noted. "They (Congress) didn't write in the statute that we collect the data. All they said is, compare it."
Mr. Hove argued that such a comparison is meaningless if data are not collected from bank and thrift competitors.
"We're only going to be requiring this on some lenders, and so what we're comparing is a very small slice and it doesn't give us a very clear picture of whether credit needs are being met," he said.
In adopting the final rules, which Mr. Hove did vote for, regulators dropped plans to require large banks to report the race and gender of small business and agricultural borrowers as well as the number and amount of these loans by census tract.
Beginning Jan. 1, 1996, large banks will be required to collect the number and amount of small business and farm loans made in low, moderate, middle, and high-income areas. These data will be turned over to regulators on March 1, 1997.
Regulators will then compile reports aggregating a bank's small business and farm lending much the way the Federal Reserve handles data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
"I'm not so certain that we've relieved all the burden," Mr. Hove said, noting that the new CRA rules run 143 pages, while the old regulations were covered by five pages.
Meanwhile, FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer, in a speech on Sunday, repeated her warning that bankers may have to help recapitalize the thrift insurance fund.
Responding to a question at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors' convention in San Antonio, Ms. Helfer noted that most bank customers are familiar with the FDIC logo but questioned whether they distinguish between the bank and thrift funds.
Ms. Helfer stressed that it is important to ensure that the FDIC's reputation is not "tarnished by the failure of a fund."
The FDIC is trying to develop a way to recapitalize the Savings Association Insurance Fund, but Ms. Helfer did not endorse any particular course of action on Sunday.
- Jonathan D. Epstein contributed to this report from San Antonio.