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Regulators urge banks to get funding to people who are impacted by the coronavirus


A pedestrian walks past the Federal Reserve building on Constitution Avenue in Washington on March 19, 2019.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Faced with a growing economic threat from the coronavirus spread, regulators on Monday urged banks to make sure “customers and members” impacted by the disease get the funding they need.

In a joint statement issued after the market close Monday, multiple agencies said they will work with banks to “provide appropriate regulatory assistance” to financial institutions under their supervision in meeting financial needs.

The statement comes amid steep losses in the stock market, with particular pressure on energy and banks. The signers are the FDIC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Federal Reserve, National Credit Union Administration and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“Regulators note that financial institutions should work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities,” the statement said. “Prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.”

Agency officials said they understand the staffing constraints that financiers may be seeing due to the coronavirus spread. They affirmed that they will “expedite, as appropriate, any request to provide more convenient availability of services in affected communities.”

Markets have been looking for help from regulators, including the Fed.

The central bank last week cut its benchmark short-term lending rate by half a percentage point and is widely expected to go even lower at its policy meeting next week.


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