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August 2, 2011

The Northampton County Democratic Party will host a 2:45 meetingThursday with North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue at the Jackson library.

Anthony Clark, chair of the Northampton Democrats, says that Perdue wants to talk about

August 1, 2011

Comments are due today (August 1st) on the proposed rules that would make twenty percent down the "new normal" for buying a home.

In March, five regulatory bodies proposed a new rule that would interpret the Dodd-Frank law on how to restore safety and soundness to mortgage lending. Dodd-Frank said that banks needed to be forced to retain some of the risk on their

July 29, 2011

A day of reckoning is coming for some communities in eastern North Carolina. With the planned sale of RBC Centura to PNC, the possibility exists that branches will close. In big cities like Raleigh, Charlotte, or Greensboro, the loss of a branch is a minor event. But in eastern North Carolina, the RBC branch is the only bank in town. If the people in Pittsburgh decide that one of their branches is redundant, then there will be no bank at all.

The FDIC says that RBC is the only bank in seven communities in North Carolina. Each is located in Northeastern North Carolina. In cities like Colerain or Rich Square, RBC is the only bank in town.  RBC was born in Eastern North Carolina and its continued involvement in the area probably reflects their long-term commitment to the area.

It isn't clear that PNC will share those same commitments. PNC may close branches. They might curb the extent to which they engage the small businesses in the area as well as the degree of commitment they make to community development lending. PNC hasn't spoken about the issue. My initial comment on this situation is available here.

If PNC closes the Rich Square branch, the nearest choice will be to take the country roads out of Northampton County and drive southeast to the Southern Bank & Trust in Aulander. The nearest RBC is back in Jackson, which is almost 20

July 28, 2011

With the consolidation of banks and the general shift away from branch banking, many small towns are facing a future with fewer banks, fewer local bankers, and perhaps even less access to loans.
Nowhere will the fruits of this problem be exposed more than in Eastern North Carolina in the next year.

It is almost always the case that when a bank is bought that its new owner decides to consolidate. Sometimes the logic is that there are duplicative functions between the new owners and their new purchase. Back office functions, which RBC has been handling out of Wilson, seem at risk. For its part, PNC told analysts that they will wrench $340 million in cost-savings from the deal. That intention could include job cuts.

Community folk feel the pain of a merger when branches are closed. This is particularly true in small towns. Banking in small towns is often driven by relationships. Some small bankers say that they don't even check credit scores when they write mortgage loans. Local banks know the small businesses in their areas. Besides, there just aren't that many banking options in some small towns. If your branch closes, it might mean that you need to drive 30 miles. When your local bank is purchased by a national bank from a thousand miles away, a community stands to lose more than just convenience. They lose access to credit.

Last month, PNC Bank agreed to pay $3.45 billion for the North American division of RBC Centura. RBC has had a big presence in Eastern North Carolina, owing to its roots as People's Bank of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Rocky Mount straddles parts of Nash and Edgecombe Counties. In Nash, RBC has 8 full service retail branches. RBC

July 26, 2011

Happy bank customers are all happy in the same ways, but unhappy bank customers are each unhappy in their own special way.

The short history of Payment Reporting Builds Credit ("PRBC") is only a minor chapter in the epic story of how the financial services industry has hurt consumers and it one that differs from almost any other.

PRBC set out to give people with bad credit or with thin credit a chance to prove that they

July 22, 2011

- Editor's Note: This is a guest editorial by Peter Skillern. Mr. Skillern is the Executive Director of the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. His comments also appear in a story published in today's Charlotte Observer.

I am an advocate who for 20 years has petitioned for lenders to be held accountable for unfair and illegal loan practices.  Yesterday, the Federal Reserve fined Wells Fargo $85 million and ordered up to $200 million in restitution to borrowers. The penalty is meant to address violations made by Wells Fargo Finance, which was a mortgage loan

July 21, 2011

In an 8-k released this morning, Republic Bancorp reported that its ALJ hearing with the FDIC is now scheduled for Feb. 6th, 2012.

The hearing with an administrative law judge is the first step in settling a disagreement between the FDIC and Republic over their refund anticipation loan ("RAL") program. The FDIC issued a guidance earlier this year which included an

July 20, 2011

This is a difficult time for American reporting. Most of America's attention is shifting between the polar magnetism of Casey Anthony (see CNN's "Essential guide to the Casey Anthony Trial") and the debt ceiling crisis.

Left to progress under the radar is a substantial change in how Americans buy homes. You may have seen some reference to the qualified residential mortgage ("the QRM") in the business section of your paper or perhaps from Bank

July 19, 2011

MetaBank says that the Office of Thrift Supervision's cease and desist order against the Iowa thrift resulted in an after-tax loss of $3.4 million. MetaBank was cited for a number of significant legal problems. The OTS said that MetaBank had engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in its i-advance credit program. The i-advance offered credit to holders of certain MetaBank-issued debit cards. When consumers

July 18, 2011

New rules in Dodd-Frank will soon change how people pay with their debit card.

Beginning on July 21st, retailers will be allowed to establish a minimum amount for any transaction that uses a credit

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