Big banks have system backward

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I don’t know if it’s Dodd-Frank. Or if it’s Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd themselves. Or if it’s just the big bankers.

But the reality is, our banking system is completely screwed up when it comes to getting a home loan.

The problem used to be that the banks, in collusion with a federal government, made bad loans to bad people. That’s what helped bring us the housing bubble and the inevitable bust that followed.

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Today the problem is reversed. The banking system is so nuts it won’t even allow banks to make good loans to good people. An example of our new backward banking system in action is what’s happened to the daughter of a friend of mine.

She’s a 29-year-old schoolteacher. When she was 24 she went out and bought herself a townhome that a bank had ended up owning after a foreclosure.

The bank was buried in the townhome for $560,000. The schoolteacher got the house for $360,000 and put $110,000 down. Her interest rate five years ago was 6 and 3/4 percent.

Today the townhome is worth more than what the teacher paid for it and now she wants to refinance and get a low-interest loan. But she’s just been told by Big Bank that she doesn’t qualify for a 3 or 4 percent loan. They’ve even told her she shouldn’t have been able to qualify for her original loan.

Think about this: Here is a teacher who has never missed a house payment. She has her monthly mortgage payment taken out of her bank account automatically. She’s never missed paying her taxes. She’s never missed paying her homeowner’s dues.

Yet she is treated as though somehow she’d suddenly stop making her mortgage payments if the bank gave her a new loan at 3 or 4 percent. The schoolteacher is looked at by the bank as if she was a future criminal.

I come from a generation where people were allowed to have a personal relationship with their bank. I used to be able to go down and talk to my local banker about a loan.

I’d tell him what I wanted to do and how much money I needed. The banker would say, “Mike, I’ve known you for 30 years. I know you’re good for it.”

Now there’s no such thing as a personal relationship with your banker. The “local” bank is owned by a bunch of international mega-corporations and the management changes every 3 minutes.

Dodd-Frank has created a situation where only the large banks will survive. Small banks are essentially being outlawed. That means our ability to ever have a personal relationship with a banker is also being outlawed. And one bad result of that will be to create more people who become upside-down on their mortgages.

If we want to bring the U.S. economy back to life we have to do it through the housing industry. But there’s no way in hell housing is going to recover if banks are no longer even giving good loans to good and rightful people.

The big bankers and politicians co-produced the meltdown of the economy. They’re the criminals, not the honest schoolteacher looking for a better interest rate on her mortgage.

If we’re going to bring this country back, the Dodds and Franks of Washington are going to have to rewrite the laws so we can have personal relationships with local banks again.


Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution.” Visit his website at, or e-mail comments to