The proportion of U.S. households without access to a bank account fell in recent years but could be driven up again by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey released Monday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The so-called unbanked rate declined to 5.4% in 2019 from 6.5% in 2017, as some 1.5 million households saw at least one member open a checking or savings account, the FDIC said in the biennial report. That rate represents the lowest level since at least 2009, when the survey began. Most of the decline reflected improvement in the circumstances of households that didn’tpreviously have bank accounts, the FDIC said. Unemployment is strongly correlated withlack of access to banking services and had fallen to 50-year lows before the pandemic sent the U.S. economy reeling this year.
Pressure is mounting on banks to offer low-cost accounts that could help bring more unbanked households into the financial mainstream. On October 19, both the American Bankers Association and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. called on banks that do not already offer accounts designed for previously unbanked consumers to start doing so. The basic accounts cost $10 or less per month and they usually do not come with paper checks, and don't charge fees for either overdrafts or low balances. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among more than 40 banks that offer such accounts, and on Monday ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols urged "the rest of the industry" to join them.
Amalgamated Bank yesterday announced that Keith Mestrich has informed the Board of Directors that he will step down from his positions as President and Chief Executive Officer on January 31, 2021. At that time, he will transition from a director to special advisor to the Board through July 2021. Mr. Mestrich joined Amalgamated Bank in 2012 and has served as its President and Chief Executive Officer since 2014. The Board has formed a Search Committee comprised of Lynne Fox, Chair of the Board, and four independent directors to oversee a national search process for a new CEO.
Hundreds of thousands of small businesses are closing for good. Temporary layoffs at larger companies are becoming permanent. But the country's largest banks, which together serve a majority of Americans through loans, credit cards or deposit services, are not raising an alarm. In their third-quarter earnings reports this week, big banks have said they are generally prepared for a wave of loan defaults they expect in the second half of next year. And their own fortunes are just fine: A trading and investment banking bonanza on Wall Street is helping them stay profitable. A few common themes have emerged from the reports.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he did not expect an economic relief package to be enacted before the Nov. 3 election, as he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California have continued to struggle to reach an agreement on a broad package to support the economy. Negotiators on Wednesday resumed discussions over a coronavirus relief package, even though Democrats and Republicans remain wildly divided over the scope and size of another stimulus bill. The Treasury secretary suggested that the gap on the top-line cost of the bill was not that wide, but that the differences on the policies within a package remained significant. He said that the White House had already made big compromises on funding for state and local governments and that Republicans continued to want liability protections for businesses that were seeking to reopen during the pandemic.
Kat Taylor started a bank, a venture capital firm and an agribusiness to use capitalism’s toolbox to fight systemic racism, environmental destruction and economic inequality. Way back in 2007 (the stone age in impact investing), Taylor and Steyer launched an idea they’d talked about for years: use a charitable foundation to start a bank that would lend to nonprofits and do-gooder businesses and direct its profits back to their environmental and community charitable causes. With Taylor as CEO, Beneficial State Bank has grown into a $1.1 billion institution with 13 branches stretching from Washington to Southern California.
Consumers on the prowl for higher rates on their savings or more places to spread out their cash have a few shortcuts. Now there’s a new competitor to these savings account rate finders: the German fintech Deposit Solutions. Through SaveBetter.com, an online portal that marks Deposit Solutions’ first foray into the U.S., consumers can shop offerings from a variety of banks. They can open one or more savings accounts from the available banks, with certificates of deposit expected to be available by the end of the year, but manage them all through a single SaveBetter account. “For Central Bank of Kansas City, it’s another source of deposits," said Trent Sorbe, founder and president of Central Payments. "It’s another interesting way in which a small community bank, a CDFI in Kansas City, can diversify its deposit acquisition strategy, reach markets outside of Kansas City and be competitive with larger providers.
A two-track recovery is emerging from the country's pandemic-driven economiccontraction. Some workers, companies and regions show signs of coming out fine or evenstronger. The rest are mired in a deep decline with an uncertain path ahead. Just months ago, economists were predicting a V-shaped recovery—a rapid rebound froma steep fall—or a U-shaped path—a prolonged downturn before healing began. What has developed is more like a K. On the upper arm of the K are well-educated andwell-off people, businesses tied to the digital economy or supplying domestic necessities,and regions such as tech-forward Western cities. By and large, they are prospering. On the bottom arm are lower-wage workers with fewer credentials, old-line businessesand regions tied to tourism and public gatherings. They can expect to bear years-longscars from the crisis.
The Senate on Wednesday passed a short-term funding bill just hours before the deadline to prevent a government shutdown. Senators voted 84 to 10 to keep the government funded at current levels through Dec. 11, setting up another funding fight after the November elections and right before the holidays. The funding bill, passed by the House earlier this month, now heads to President Trump's desk, where he is expected to sign it before midnight to keep the government running.
A new House Democratic economic stimulus plan would funnel billions of dollars to Community Development Financial Institutions, reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program and allow marijuana banking. Those are just some of the provisions contained in the 2,153-page bill, which has formed the basis for renewed negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Democratic bill also calls for $1 billion for CDFIs for financial support and technical assistance, and a $2 billion “emergency appropriation” for the institutions, as well as up to $15 billion in PPP loans to be made by CDFIs and other community lenders.