By Sal Marranca
As a local community banker, a recent news report on the financial assistance provided by federal regulators to the nation’s largest and riskiest financial institutions at the height of the recent financial crisis made my blood boil. The report, drawing from 29,000 pages of Federal Reserve documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, uncovers trillions of dollars in secret Federal Reserve Board “no strings attached” loans that allowed these too-big-to-fail institutions to net $13 billion in profits – at exactly the same time they were bringing our economy to the brink of collapse. Once again Wall Street gets the gold while Main Streets like ours get the shaft.
The report reads like a horror story for community bankers and taxpayers in general. It reveals the special, privileged world of Wall Street that a Main Street banker never sees.
In a struggling economy, community banks like mine strive to serve the needs of our local customers and help drive stability and prosperity right here in Western New York. We do this – and have been doing so for 110 years – while not receiving the kind of privileged regulatory treatment made available to a handful of the nation’s largest financial institutions. While those that helped trigger the financial collapse get away scot-free, community bankers like mine face the harshest examination climate in more than two generations! You would think Congress and the regulatory agencies would not allow such inequities to happen – but they have. None of us want to see a sequel of the financial crisis, so let’s nip this in the bud right now and put a hard stop on too-big-to-fail.
The report is further evidence of why I and other community bankers across the nation will not waiver in our support of fair and proportional regulations that distinguish Main Street community banks from Wall Street mega banks. After all, we should never again let a handful of too-big-to-fail financial firms bring this nation to its economic knees, all the while wreaking havoc on local economies like ours.
President and CEO,
Cattaraugus County Bank,
Little Valley, NY