Regulators nix credit card debt forgiveness planSubmitted by cooper11 on Thu, 11/13/2008 - 11:03
WASHINGTON – Federal bank regulators have rejected a request by banks and consumer advocates for a program to let lenders forgive huge portions of credit card debt.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rejected the request for a special program that would allow as much as 40 percent of credit card debt to be forgiven for consumers who don't qualify for existing repayment plans.
An unusual alliance of financial industry interests and consumer advocates, represented by the Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America, made the request to the Treasury Department agency on Oct. 29. It demonstrated the urgency of the situation in a deepening economic crisis: consumers — even those with strong credit records — defaulting at high levels on their credit cards, while banks battered by the credit crisis bleed tens of billions from the losses.
An agency official said the government objects to allowing banks to defer losses for several years on the forgiven debt, as would occur in accounting by lenders under the special program.
The agency "does not consider any plan that defers the timely recognition of loss as prudent, and any such proposal cannot be viewed favorably by us," Timothy Long, senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision policy, said in a letter to the two groups dated Monday and made public Wednesday.
"The timely identification, reporting and management of credit losses, along with adequate loan-loss reserves and capital levels, provide the public with ... confidence" in the banking system, Long wrote.