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Subprime Survivors Wells, BofA and JPM Chase More Disparate By Race in US in 2008, Study During G-20 Meeting Finds

NEW YORK, April 2 -- In the first study of the just-released 2008 mortgage lending data, Fair Finance Watch has found that the seeming survivors of the banking meltdown, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, had worse disparities by race and ethnicity in denials and higher-cost lending than the banks they acquired, Wachovia and Countrywide. Mortgage lending in the U.S. will become more and not less disparate because of the emergency mergers and bailouts engineered by the regulators, the FFW study predicts.

   Fair Finance Watch notes that JPMorgan Chase's massive closing of branches of Washington Mutual will also make credit harder to come by, especially in poor neighborhoods.  2008 is the fifth year in which the data distinguishes which loans are higher cost, over the federally-defined rate spread of 3 percent over the yield on Treasury securities of comparable duration on first lien loans, 5 percent on subordinate liens.

            Wells Fargo Bank in 2008 confined African Americans to higher-cost loans above this rate spread 2.18 times more frequently than whites, according to Fair Finance Watch. Wachovia Mortgage FSB, the largest lender of Wachovia which Wells Fargo acquired, had a lower disparity, at 1.46.

            Bank of America NA in 2008 confined Latinos to higher-cost loans above the rate spread 1.51 times more frequently than whites, the data show. Countrywide Bank, which B of A acquired, had a lower disparity, at 1.22.

            JPMorgan Chase was even more disparate to Latinos, confined them to higher-cost loans 2.10 times more frequently than whites, almost as pronounced as its disparity between African-Americans and whites, 2.26. Citigroup, perhaps due to its shrinking, some say dying, business had disparities of 1.90 for African Americans and 1.23 for Latinos. For US Bancorp, the disparity for African Americans was 1.55 and for Latinos, 1.35.

Big bank execs before Congress: growing disparities in lending not shown

            "The banks the regulators favored in 2008, allowing emergency takeovers like JPMorgan Chase's of Washington Mutual, Bank of America's of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, and Wells Fargo's of Wachovia, were the most racial disparate lenders," states the Fair Finance Watch report. "The regulators did not put any conditions on the mergers or Troubled Assets Relief Program bailouts, for example allowing Chase to close dozens of Washington Mutual branches. As things are going, it will be worse and more disparate in 2009. The new administration in Washington has yet to make any substantive change to this, and global predatory lending is hardly being discussed at the G-20 meeting in London."

            Several lenders had worse denial rate disparities in 2008 between Latinos and whites then between African American and whites, a change from previous years. Bank of America NA, for example, denied applications by African Americans 1.44 times more frequently than whites, while denying Latinos fully 1.57 times more frequently than whites. Atlanta-based SunTrust in 2008 denied applications by African Americans 1.37 times more frequently than whites, while denying Latinos fully 1.78 times more frequently than whites.

  The law required that the 2008 data be provided by April 1, following March 1 requests by Inner City Press. Some lenders did not provide their data by the deadline. Regions Financial provided its data at the deadline but only in paper format, on over 2000 pages, so that it could not yet be computer-analyzed. Further studies will follow.

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 DC (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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