Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Castle: Don't rush credit card reforms

Democrats in Congress want to speed up the Federal Reserve's pro-consumer credit card rules so they take effect this year instead of mid-2010.

Castle: Don't rush credit card reforms


Democrats in Congress want to speed up the Federal Reserve's pro-consumer credit card rules so they take effect this year instead of mid-2010. Those rules would slow interest-rate hikes by requiring 45-day warnings, limit card fees for subprime borrowers, and end "double-cycle" and other compound fees.

Don't rush, says U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, whose Delaware district includes Bank of America's and JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s credit card headquarters in Wilmington. "There's a lot of politics to this," Castle told reporters in a conference call. For banks, "the date is a major issue." He wants "a way the credit card industry can live with this." 

"If they have to put it in place too quickly, and they haven't worked out and tested all their models, and they're not confident in what they're doing, it could end up further constricting credit," warned Sandra Braunstein, director of the Federal Reserve's Consumer and Community Affairs division, who joined Castle for the call.

Haven't banks already cut back? We keep hearing from borrowers that card companies are jacking up rates and cutting credit limits. Is that because they're getting ready for the new rules -- or just because they can't sell ("securitize") old credit card loans, to finance new ones, in today's bond markets? 

"It is very difficult to say whether part of this is because of the (Fed) rules, versus economic conditions," Braunstein acknowledged? Different agencies still produce different kinds of data for different banks. "There's a lot of piecemeal information," said Castle. I told them it sounds awful tough to make policy from "piecemeal" information instead of hard central data. 

Castle's not sure less credit is a bad thing: "We've allowed credit to run away with itself," and some people may just have to get used to borrowing less.

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About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at http://www.philly.com/PhillyDeals and his Inquirer columns at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/joseph-distefano/. Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph DiStefano