'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING': Former Wells Fargo chairman and chief executive Richard M. Kovacevich argues that the Federal Reserve should stop agonizing over a fractional rate hike and pull the trigger. "A review of Federal Reserve's unconventional monetary policies shows that few of the central bank's recent actions have achieved their desired goals," he writes. "Therefore the central bank has little to lose in moving ahead with such a minor rate increase." The majority of American Banker readers cheered Kovacevich's call to action. "It is the long-term zero-interest-rate environment that has stifled de novo bank chartering," writes "commobanker." Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Bill Isaac suggested the Fed and other central banks may have an ulterior motive for keeping interest rates low: government deficits. "Debtors prefer very low interest rates and nearly all governments are way over their heads in debt," he writes.
SMALL-DOLLAR CREDIT: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should make small-dollar credit more affordable by reining in checking account overdraft fees and putting more restrictions on payday loan terms, according to Travis Plunkett of The Pew Charitable Trusts. On the other end of the spectrum, Thomas W. Miller and Chad Reese of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University write that the Obama administration made a mistake by capping the interest rate on payday loans to military members at 36%. Small-dollar, short-term lenders won't be able to turn a profit at that rate, which will limit access to credit, they warn.
Also on the blog: Banks have a hard road ahead in overhauling their legacy payment systems, writes Nucleus Software Exports' Dinesh Verman.
Columnist Dave Martin explained how a recent trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles reminded him of how much influence bank managers and staffers have over their customers' moods and work environments.
The best way to ensure that controversial mergers get fair public hearings is for the Federal Reserve to require that community groups disclose the contributions they receive from banks, according to consultant and economist Kenneth Thomas.
Basic mobile banking services are all well and good, but banks shouldn't make these kinds of standard features the focus of their marketing, according to Liberty Bank of Chicago's Kevin Tynan. Financial institutions should instead play up their problem-solving abilities and helpful frontline staff, he says.
Banks' cross-border payment systems tend to be characterized by high fees and slow transaction times. Blockchain technology may soon change that, writes payments consultant Nasreen Quibria.
Don't miss our weekly roundup of the big events involving women in banking, including a push to get more Republican women on the House Financial Services Committee.
Got an informed opinion on the business of banking? Submit to BankThink. Full submissions guidelines are available here.