Fed Governor Warns Minority Bankers on TARP

Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke called on minority-owned banks to analyze their ability to access capital from an “unemotional” perspective before deciding to apply for or repay funds received for the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Duke, herself a community banker early in her career, made the comments in a speech at the Minority Depository Institutions National Conference 2009 Conference in Chicago Thursday. “Once you repay the TARP investment, it likely will not be available again. So, please, before you make your decision, take one more unemotional run through your projections, your assumptions, and your ‘what-ifs,’ and make sure you are comfortable with your decision,” Duke told the audience. “And if you have already received TARP capital, consider holding it in reserve for a little longer, at least until conditions are more favorable.” Duke added she sympathized with smaller banks that she said have been unfairly included with larger financial institutions in the public’s anger towards the industry. “Community bankers are angry, too,” she said. “They are angry because they did not ask for or receive any bailouts. They did not make the subprime loans. They did not get the big bonuses. And they are still making every good loan they can find. But regardless of their innocence, they are paying the price for public anger at banks and are being vilified and stigmatized.” Moving forward, Duke said the Federal Reserve will focus its regulatory efforts on monitoring liquidity and capital planning, as well as compensation management systems that that promote excessive risk-taking. Duke also addressed Partnership for Progress, a Fed program that provides technical assistance and support for minority-owned and new banks, and each Fed district has a specific person assigned to the program to work with the institutions, saying the program has already yielded positive results. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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