A new report shows that despite strong job growth since the end of the Great Recession, many working families are worse off that they were in 2007, before the Great Recession began. The latest U.S. Census data shows that three out of every 10 working families were low-income in 2016. In addition, income and wealth gaps between working families at the top and bottom of the economic ladder remain at all-time highs. The report, produced jointly by PRB and The Working Poor Families Project, also found disturbing growing inequality among racial and ethnic groups.
Bloomington, Indiana has introduced itself as the first "CDFI Friendly City", in hopes of establishing a new model to bring national financing to local community development. CDFIs, which serve neighborhoods or groups the financial sector has historically neglected, have expanded in recent years but still aren't reaching many American cities. "More than a quarter of counties in the U.S. have had no CDFI lending in the five years between 2011 and 2015," says Brett Theodos, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute who studies on CDFIs. In December 2017, the Urban Institute released a report breaking down the types of state and local policy that are important for CDFIs to enter a market. There are significant challenges for smaller communities and more rural areas, according to Theodos.
Urban Institute has collected data on 274 of the largest US cities and ranked those cities on economic, racial, and overall inclusion across four decades. It also measured economic health to see whether cities could harness growth to improve inclusion. The interactive dataset can be explored online to explore national trends, learn lessons from case-study cities, and dig deeper into your own city.
On April 9, the Treasury Department debuted the first details of a new and far-reaching community-based tax incentive. In 18 states, newly designated zones could see a wave of new investment under a little-known provision of the recent tax overhaul. These opportunity zones are designed to lure investment to the nation's poorest urban, suburban, and rural communities with a powerful tax incentive. By the accounts of some experts, the program could deliver a vital injection to areas that haven't yet recovered from the Great Recession. Yet it could also fuel gentrification in those communities where too much opportunity, too fast, has led to rapid displacement.
In this article authored by Sunrise Banks CEO David Reiling, the possibility of an Amazon-branded checking account is discussed. Reiling examines whether the product can ceate positive social change, and suggests a potential partnership between Amazon and small, innovative banks in addition to larger institutions like JPMorgan Chase. "The key to disruption in any sector is agility," he wrote. "Big banks are far too clunky and siloed for the rapid adaptive innovation required."
If Congress passes a major rollback of banking rules put in place in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, thousands of banks could be freed from a range of federal regulations. Louisiana community bankers say that, unlike large lenders that bundle mortgages together and quickly resell them on the markets, they keep most of their loans. Ken Hale, president and CEO of the Bank of Montgomery, discussed the impact of such regulations on his bank's finances. "In most rural areas, for most community banks, real estate lending is kind of our bread and butter," he said, explaining that federal regulations are unnecessary in his context to determine whether the bank should issue a mortgage.
This article from the American Banker examines the partnership between New Resource Bank in San Francisco and a fintech firm, which aims to reach underserved small-business clients. New Resource, which agreed to sell itself to Amalgamated Bank in New York in December, is delving into an area — working with fintech — that has largely been the domain of larger financial institutions. In doing so, New Resource is taking part in an arrangement that industry observers view as unique given the bank's size. The partnership is enticing for banks looking to grow their C&I portfolios. "I think there's definitely room for niche players," said Ian Benton, a senior digital banking and payments analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research. "That's why bank partnerships make so much sense."
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African Americans built a successful business community in Durham, North Carolina. Durham's Black Wall Street flourished, becoming home to some of the most influential minority-owned businesses in the country, including Mechanics and Farmers Bank, the second-oldest minority-owned bank in the United States. Today, black-owned businesses are continuing to thrive. According to the US Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners, black-owned firms make up more than a quarter of all companies in Durham, nearly twice the percentage of black-owned firms in North Carolina as a whole.
Industry representatives, analysts, and consumer advocates have all praised the Treasury report recommending a slew of CRA reforms that could serve as a jumping off point for regulators twho seem poised to update their decades-old policy. In this Article, the American banker provides five key takeaways from the Treasury report, which has been dubbed "an astonishingly progressive set of recommendations" by Federal Financial Analytics.
Lower-income neighborhoods are plagued by disproportionately fewer bank branches, prompting some residents to turn to high-cost alternatives to obtain capital. Advocates say there is a viable option to help fill the void. In Buffalo, NY, some legislators are calling for the state to allocate $25 million to support CDFIs. "We want to see a statewide investment, an affirmative policy where the state is committing to support institutions that share this mission to serve low-income communities," said Andy Morrison, campaigns director for the New Economy Project. The small number of bank branches in low-income areas, he argues, underscores the need for state funding.