Groups Seek Easing of Bank Rules on Minority Loan Data

A coalition of state community groups seeking to loosen federal regulations governing bank lending to minority businesses is taking its case to the public today in a full-page advertisement in West Coast editions of the New York Times.

In the $3,000 ad headlined "Who's Afraid of Alan Greenspan?" the groups, spearheaded by the San Francisco-based Greenlining Coalition, argue for the loosening of Federal Reserve Board regulations prohibiting banks from voluntarily compiling data on minority and female business loan applicants.

Fed Chairman Greenspan has refused requests from the groups to do so. Bob Moore, a spokesman for the central bank, said changing the regulations would require action by the entire board.

The groups' goal is to allow banks to keep track of how many business and consumer loans they make to women and minorities, thereby making the banks more accountable. Banks already track the race and gender of home loan applicants.

The groups also want the Clinton Administration to transfer oversight of community lending practices from the Fed to another agency, such as the Comptroller of the Currency. In a letter dated April 21, Comptroller Eugene A. Ludwig urged Greenspan and the Fed to revise its regulations.

Lack of access to bank capital has been cited as a barrier to the economic development of minority and inner-city communities.

Ironically, the regulations were instituted to prohibit banks from discrimination.

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