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February 15, 2022

Better Markets Submits Comment Letter Urging the Department of Justice to Strengthen the Bank Merger Process

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Phillip Basil, Director of Banking Policy, issued the following statement on the filing of Better Markets comment letter to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice on their request for comment on enhancing the 1995 Bank Merger Competitive Review Guidelines.

“Better Markets urges the DOJ and the banking regulatory agencies to work together to modernize and strengthen the bank merger review guidelines for the benefit of the American people by implementing the enhancements around the servicing of community needs and financial stability concerns outlined in our letter.

“An insufficient merger review process, combined with other factors such as changes in laws and economic events, has contributed to massive consolidation in the banking industry over the last three and a half decades. Large mergers not only increase financial stability risks, but they can also harm hardworking Americans and small businesses. They can lead to a reduction in consumer banking services or increase the cost associated with them, or even to a lack of access altogether when branches are closed, especially in low-income communities.

“The review process must work to enhance the public interest and the servicing of the convenience and needs of underserved communities as well as more seriously consider the risks to financial stability of the merged institution. The common-sense enhancements to the review process proposed in our comment letter would go a long way to achieving this.

“After nearly forty years, the agencies need to take account of the ever-increasing consolidation of the banking industry and strengthen the merger review process in order to enhance the public interest while reducing, or at least not increasing, the level of risk in the system.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.org.

Contact: Evelyn Swan at 202-618-6433 or eswan@bettermarkets.org

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