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January 27, 2021

Better Markets Joins Other Public Interest Groups in Opposing OCC Fair Access Rule

Better Markets joined efforts led by longtime allies and friends at Public Citizen and The Center for Responsible Lending to oppose a proposed rule from the OCC that would require banks to lend to risky and predatory industries, including oil companies and payday lenders.
It appears that our efforts have been successful as the OCC announced earlier today that it would halt the publication of the so-called fair access rule. This is a positive step as the rule actually threatens to undermine safety and soundness and consumer protection in the banking system.
Why it matters. The proposed rule contradicts its mission of ensuring the safety and soundness of the banking system and protecting consumers from abusive lending practices, in addition to exceeding the OCC’s statutory authority.
What we said. The proposal is a politically motivated action taken in response to certain banks choosing to limit their exposure to certain industries, including fossil fuel companies, predatory lending and others that produce social and environmental ills.  The OCC’s ideological leader decided that he and he alone knew better than everyone at the banks regarding how they should make lending decisions and which bank activities present unacceptable financial and reputational risks.
Bottomline. If finalized, the proposal would have forced banks to ignore legitimate risk assessments which would undermine the safety and soundness of banks and facilitating predatory lending practices that harm consumers. The rule would also have forced banks to make the climate crisis worse and fund all sorts of anti-social activities without regard to the consequences.
Read the comment letters.


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