It's Official: Don't Blame the CRA
From the Wall Street Journal (12/3/08):
Federal Reserve governor Randall Kroszner, a conservative economist on leave from a teaching post at the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business, says the Community Reinvestment Act isn’t to blame for the subprime mess, despite some accusations to the contrary.
“First, only a small portion of subprime mortgage originations are related to the CRA. Second, CRA-related loans appear to perform comparably to other types of subprime loans. Taken together… we believe that the available evidence runs counter to the contention that the CRA contributed in any substantive way to the current mortgage crisis,” he said in a speech today in Washington.
The Community Reinvestment Act, which dates to the 1970s, was crafted to combat discrimination and red-lining. It requires regulators to press banks to lend to low-income and minority neighborhoods. Kroszner’s speech summarized research the Fed has been doing on two basic questions: (1) What share of subprime loans were related to CRA? Answer: “Loans that are the focus of the CRA represent a very small portion of the subprime lending market, casting considerable doubt on the potential contribution that the law could have made to the subprime mortgage crisis.” (2) How have CRA-related subprime loans performed relative to other loans. Answer: “[D]elinquency rates were high in all neighborhood income groups, and that CRA-related subprime loans performed in a comparable manner to other subprime loans.”