Economy strengthening but rates likely to remain low next three years, Evans says

Although the economy is likely to improve in 2021, inflationary pressures are expected to be minimal which means interest rates are not expected to rise anytime soon. That is how Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago since 2007, summarized the economic outlook in an event jointly held by the Indiana Bankers Association and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. [Continue]

A year that put us to the test

2020 reminds me a little of the George W. Bush presidency. It was progressing rather undistinguishedly, and then 9-11 happened. That changed the tone of the rest of his presidency. This year started out unremarkably, continuing a gradual economic expansion that had started more than a decade ago. Then COVID-19 hit and, all of a sudden, it’s like we entered a different world.  [Continue]

The anatomy of a senior scam

Scams aimed at senior citizens are on the rise; bankers are often witnesses, which can put them in a quandary. On the one hand, they are obligated to execute legal transactions initiated by customers, including withdrawals; on the other hand, they can sometimes spot unusual customer behavior which may be an indication of fraud. [Continue]

No time to wait

Nobody knows when the pandemic is going to clear up. Some are saying there will be a vaccine soon; others are saying we will be dealing with masks, social distancing, quarantines and travel bans for years. I have decided to stop waiting for things to get better; it’s time to make the most of the present, regardless of the conditions we can’t control. [Continue]

Carranza gets a big start at the SBA

September 30 marked the close of the 2020 fiscal year for the country; what an enormous year it turned out to be for the U.S. Small Business Administration. When Jovita Carranza was confirmed SBA Administrator in January, there was no way for her to know the agency was on the cusp of its biggest mission since the SBA was created in 1953: Help the country and its small businesses navigate a pandemic-induced recession.  [Continue]

Pandemic raises stakes on debit card issue

The 10th anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act came in the midst of the pandemic, when debit card usage was surging. The Durbin Amendment to Dodd-Frank requires card issuers to enable cards to operate on at least two unaffiliated debit networks. Sen. Richard Durbin, (D-Ill.) recently wrote to the Federal Reserve about his concern that the largest card issuers are ignoring the rule at a time when card usage is skyrocketing, resulting in higher fees for merchants and, therefore, consumers. [Continue]

Consensus around PPP’s success

Democrats and Republicans unsurprisingly have different takes on the success of the Paycheck Protection Program. Opposing political parties routinely take shots at one another; weeks before a presidential election, the partisanship is especially acute. With respect to PPP, however, small business advocates should agree that the program provided crucial support very quickly, with safeguards against fraud that made PPP as effective as any massive government grant program can realistically be. [Continue]

Turn PPP borrowers into core customers

Thousands of lenders across the country have loaned more than $230 billion to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. While many banks focused on serving existing customers, perhaps equally as many attracted new customers. If your bank has acquired new customers through PPP, now is the time to solidify these relationships. [Continue]