Fair Finance in the United States?

Predatory lending, insurance redlining -- and the "convergence of movements"

4/05-- ICP / FFW's studies of the 2004 HMDA data: first  2nd   third fourth (NYC)

Some coverage: AP re ICP's first study     CBS MarketWatch re second

Over 130 countries have signed the United Nations' International Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  The United States is not among them.  In the U.S., what protections of economic rights exist have been enacted on a piecemeal basis, often subject to repeal, or the threat of repeal. At millennium's end , the U.S. Congress took a major step toward (entirely) deregulating financial services, in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by then-President Clinton in November 1999. This law allows bank, insurance and securities firms to merge, in many cases without any public comment periods, or regulatory review.

    In 2005, the Fair Finance Watch is focusing, in the United States, on insurance redlining, predatory lending, and steps local communities can take to hold financial services companies accountable. Click here for some sample ICP/FFW wins on payday lending and car title lending.

    As the largest U.S.-based banks -- including Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, and Bank of America-- increasingly focus overseas, where they find the even-more deregulated economies to their liking, and as "foreign" banks like Deutsche Bank and HSBC make acquisitions in the United States, neighborhood groups in the U.S. are having to expand their analyses, beyond simply deposit levels and mortgage lending, to the things "their" banks find interesting and profitable. Collaborations are growing, between grassroots housing organizations and environmental, fair trade and anti-private prison groups. The first round of this "convergence of movements" has begun around Citigroup; Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase are more recently becoming the subject of scrutiny.

    This Web site, like the work of the Fair Finance Watch and the wider movements of which it is a part, will continue to expand.

Click here to view examples of campaigns that have given rise to the FFW, including analyses of several multinational financial institutions' effects on consumers and the environment, worldwide. Click here for some initial brainstorming, more concrete than the above, on "lender liability."   And click here to provide your feedback, your ideas and objections, and to get involved.

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