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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 19, 2000


Ensuring that all Americans have an opportunity to share in our nation's economic prosperity has been at the core of my Administration's domestic agenda. We have made progress, but there is much more that we can do to extend the benefits of the vibrant American economy, including our innovative financial markets, to all Americans.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is central to that goal. Early in my Administration, I asked the federal banking regulators to revise the regulations implementing CRA to focus on the performance of banks and thrifts in serving the credit needs of their local communities. Since 1993, banks and thrifts have pledged to make over $1 trillion in home mortgage, small business, and community development loans for low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and borrowers. This report documents that since 1993 banks and thrifts have already made well over $600 billion of such types of loans. Today, credit is more widely available than ever before for Americans who wish to borrow to buy a house, or start a business. Our success in democratizing access to credit under this Administration is an historic achievement, but we cannot rest.

The financial modernization legislation that I signed into law last fall allows the integration of banking, insurance and securities industries. In itself, this modernization should benefit consumers due to enhanced competition and innovative products and services. However, we also took a strong stand on protecting CRA, and we insisted on retaining CRA as a key pillar in the new banking system. We would not agree with those who attempted to weaken the CRA obligations of banks and thrifts in this process. Our determination resulted in the new requirement that a bank or thrift must have at least a satisfactory CRA rating each and every time it expands into these newly authorized lines of business. This is the first time CRA will be taken into consideration outside traditional bank merger and branch opening activities.

We must remain watchful to ensure that, as we modernize our financial system, it works for all Americans. The Treasury Department's baseline report on CRA will serve as a useful guidepost in assessing how far we have come and what remains to be done. The report will also provide a benchmark against which to assess changes in access to credit and financial services as the industry continues to evolve in the years ahead.