"Just in Time" Fed NOW going to regulate subprime lenders
"The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday that it will extend its regulatory umbrella to cover a group of lenders that includes several major originators of subprime loans, policing whether they follow federal laws that protect consumers of mortgages, credit cards and other financial products.
"Federal banking regulators already oversee companies that own banks, known as holding companies, along with the banks themselves. Under the new policy, the Fed will extend the same oversight to other businesses owned by those holding companies, such as units that make home-equity loans.
"The policy places subprime lenders such as CitiFinancial, an arm of Citigroup, and Wells Fargo Financial, an arm of Wells Fargo, under Fed oversight for the first time. The same laws protect all borrowers, but until now, no federal agency watched to make sure non-bank subsidiaries followed the law.
"The decision reflects a basic shift at the Fed, which is charged by Congress with protecting consumers from abuses during financial transactions. After leaving its power largely unused during the housing boom, the Fed has lately begun to assert itself, for example imposing new restrictions on mortgage and credit card lenders."