Banking Agencies Push Back Key Deadline

Easing a bit of burden and doubtless with litigation in mind, the banking agencies today issued an interim final rule extending the applicability date of facility-based assessment areas and public file provisions of the CRA rule from April 1, 2024 to January 1, 2026.  With this change, the manner in which assessment areas are evaluated is aligned to the same deadline.  The IFR also includes non-substantive revisions to the final rule.

HFSC GOP Calls for GAO Interchange Fee Study

Following introduction of HFSC Subcommittee Chair Luetkemeyer’s (R-MO) bill (H.R. 7531) to require the Fed to conduct a qualitative impact study of the interchange fee proposal, he and Subcommittee Chair Barr (R-KY) yesterday sent a letter to the GAO requesting a study of the potential impacts of the proposal (see FSM Report INTERCHANGE12).  The members state that the proposal would cause banks and credit unions to face “material obstacles” to offset the regulatory, anti-fraud, and operating costs for extending banking services to low-balance consumers, with the proposal also raising “unique concerns” because the Fed offers competing payment services.  The members request that the GAO’s analysis examine the rule’s effects on consumer access to checking account services with regards to minimum balance costs, increases in ancillary fee revenue, LMI population access, and the cumulative impacts of agency rules since January 1, 2023 affecting debit accounts.

Barr Concedes Capital Rules Will Change

Ending speculation that Vice Chair Barr will not accede to Chair Powell’s end-game capital concerns (see Client Report FEDERALRESERVE75), Mr. Barr today reiterated that there will be “broad and material changes” to the proposal leading to consensus on the Board and with other agencies. How and when this will occur was left unsaid.  Mr. Barr also reiterated both his own and Mr. Powell’s comments that a U.S. CBDC will require new law, noting also that CRE risk is worrisome, but manageable.  The Vice Chair also focused on discount-window preparedness, pointing to the $1 trillion pledged to the discount-window since March of 2023 as evidence that banks are now better prepared for emergency liquidity drains, noting also the ongoing work with the FHLBs and FHFA cited earlier this week by a senior FHFA official.  In what may be a first-time disclosure, the Vice Chair also said that the Fed is now monitoring social media to anticipate bank runs.