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March 4, 2022

The Federal Reserve’s Disturbing Pattern of Late-Friday Bank Merger Approvals Highlights the Need for More Transparency and Accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Phillip Basil, Director of Banking Policy at Better Markets, issued the following statement on today’s action by the Federal Reserve to approve the acquisition of People’s United Bank by M&T Bank:

“Today the Federal Reserve announced yet another late-Friday approval of a bank acquisition, which follows its late-Friday announcements of three bank M&A transactions last December.  This is becoming a disturbing pattern that undermines the credibility of the Federal Reserve.  It opens the question – what is it trying to hide by releasing such important information at a time when it will get the least attention, media coverage, and scrutiny?

“As we said at the time, the December announcements were an indication of the need for more transparency and public accountability of the Fed’s bank mergers and acquisitions approvals process.  This approval, however, is much more significant and merits ongoing public announcements throughout the process and an approval announcement at a time when it is likely to get appropriate coverage given its importance.

“Today’s approved acquisition of People’s United by M&T bank will make the combined bank the 17th largest in the U.S., moving up from the 36th largest.  It will have $216 billion in combined assets, which will significantly increase the banks’ footprint and potential risk to the economy and taxpayers.  This again highlights the need for the Fed to follow the lead of the FDIC and the Department of Justice in requesting public feedback on sensible reforms to the review process, which simply must be much more transparent.  Such end-of-week, late-in-the-day announcements are a disservice to the public and beneath the proper role of the Fed.

“Without sensible reforms and improved accountability, the agencies will continue allowing the massive consolidation in the banking industry that has been shown to reduce financial products and services to America’s families, including low-income individuals, small businesses, and communities of color who are hurt the most by such consolidation. The race to create ever-larger banks must be balanced with increasing better, broader, and less expensive services and products to the public, while ensuring sufficient competition, and preventing the buildup of systemic risks.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded 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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