Bank Law Monitor

Bank Law Monitor

A Legal Blog for the Financial Services Industry

Federal Banking Agencies Encourage Small-Dollar Lending

Posted in Banking, COVID-19, Trending News

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. On Thursday, March 26, 2020, the federal banking agencies (i.e., the FDIC, CFPB, FRB, NCUA, and OCC) issued a joint statement encouraging banks and credit unions to offer responsible small-dollar loans to consumers and small businesses affected by COVID-19. Many of us might remember the days of “Operation Chokepoint” in the 2010s (where small-dollar payday lenders were allegedly targeted), but those days are long gone. At least for now, the regulators recognize the importance of “responsible” small-dollar lending (by their supervised financial institutions) in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

The banking agencies acknowledge that COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions in the lives of consumers and small businesses, including cash-flow imbalances, unexpected expenses, and income shortfalls. In their joint statement, the regulators encourage financial institutions to offer small-dollar loans to help meet the credit needs of these affected customers. The regulators note that lenders could offer these loans in many forms, including open-end lines of credit, closed-end installment loans, or single payment loans. Financial institutions are also encouraged to think about workout strategies that enable distressed borrowers to repay the principal of their loans while mitigating the need to re-borrow. Continue Reading

Congress CARES: Federal Stimulus Package to Provide Emergency Relief to Borrowers and Financial Institutions

Posted in COVID-19, Trending News

On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. Called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (or CARES) Act, this unprecedented bill is expected to be passed by the House this Friday and quickly become law.

There is much in the Act for the financial services industry to celebrate, including hundreds of billions of dollars for new loans to pump up the economy and provide credit to businesses. Bankers will also welcome the temporary relief from regulatory requirements and accounting rules, which encourage loan modifications for distressed borrowers and delay the potential hit to bank balance sheets. There are also some new restrictions that require lenders to grant up to a year in automatic forbearance on federally insured mortgages and a short-term prohibition on foreclosures. All-in-all, there’s something in the stimulus package for lenders and borrowers alike. Continue Reading

CARES Act Expands Small Business Lending and Provides Potential Loan Forgiveness

Posted in COVID-19, Trending News

In its current form, the CARES Act amends the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Section 7(a) loan program to encourage banks and credit unions to make small business loans under what is known as the “Paycheck Protection Program.” If passed, the Act would appropriate $349 billion for SBA guaranties to protect lenders against the risk of default, while also easing underwriting hurdles to finance small businesses needing additional funding for existing payroll and operating expenses (including interest on existing loans). On March 25, 2020, Secretary Mnuchin said that loan applications may be approved and funded the same day. Continue Reading

Banking Regulators Encourage Lenders to Work with Borrowers Impacted by COVID-19

Posted in Banking, COVID-19, Regulatory Developments, Trending News

Federal banking regulators took a bold, first step this past Sunday, announcing Interagency Guidance (“the Guidance”) to encourage lenders to work with borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.[1] The Guidance specifically permits lenders to enter into (prudent, of course) short-term loan modifications with borrowers who are otherwise current on their loans, without classifying the loan as a “troubled debt restructure” (TDR) or placing the loan into nonaccrual status. This allows lenders to provide immediate relief to borrowers facing unexpected distress because of COVID-19 with a reduced financial impact to their balance sheets. Continue Reading