A viewpoint published by American Banker, penned by Arthur Wilmarth at the George Washington University Law School, wonders if the OCC and OTS are as clean as many might think when it comes to the issue of who to blame for the subprime mess: An excerpt:
It is now obvious that wholesale lenders and securitizers, including many of the largest national banks and federal thrifts and their affiliates, were the driving forces behind the subprime lending boom. The OCC and the OTS maintain teams of on-site examiners at major national banks and federal thrifts. Both agencies repeatedly assured Congress that their examiners are vigilant and effective in uncovering and correcting unsound and abusive practices. State officials have taken thousands of enforcement actions against predatory lenders, including orders that assessed more than $800 million in penalties against Ameriquest and Household. However, when the states tried to apply their laws on predatory lending to national banks and federal thrifts, the OCC and the OTS issued regulations preempting those laws.
Wilmarth goes on to lament the "virtual absence of public enforcement actions by the OCC and the OTS to prosecute violations of consumer protection laws by the largest national banks and federal thrifts" and suggests that neither agency should be absolved from blame in terms of the mortgage mess we're now having to face. Subscribers can read the full letter -- well worth the read.