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Federal agency that regulates banks introduces extreme new affirmative action program


From Financial Times…

There really is no end to the insanity that goes on at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Now the agency says it will no longer perform personnel reviews, on the grounds that the results of earlier reviews appeared to show that it discriminates against minority employees. In particular, on a 1 to 5 scale, whites got higher scores than Hispanics, who got higher scores than blacks. To remedy this, the agency will now proceed (and pay everyone) on the basis that all of its employees are 5s. Everyone’s a winner! Only rather than a trophy, everyone gets cash money. Welcome to cloud-cuckoo land.

One wants to burst out laughing, but this is actually yet another sign of what a messed up bureaucracy the CFPB really is.

First, this is an important issue for banks for the simple reason that the CFPB intends to regulate them on the basis that “disparate impact” on minorities—the same disparate impact that showed up in its performance reviews—is prima facie evidence of discrimination in things like lending decisions. Which is ridiculous. No one believes the CFPB is a hotbed of deliberate racism, regardless of how its performance reviews turn out. Similarly, the agency shouldn’t rely on disparate impact as a sign lenders deliberately discriminate against minority borrowers. If it does, then banks, to stay on the safe side, will likely respond by making credit less available to all borrowers. Who does that help?

From American Banker…

The ratings disparities were first made public by American Banker in a March 6 article that found African-Americans and other minority employees were far more likely to receive lower evaluations than white employees. The more than 1,100 employees were rated on a scale of 1 to 5; the agency grants greater benefits, including raises and benefits, to those who receive higher scores.

The story relied on an 2013 internal agency report that found 74.6% of whites received ratings of 4 or 5 compared to 65.2% of Hispanics and 57.6% of African-Americans. One-fifth of white employees, or 20.7% received a 5, compared with 10.5% of African-Americans, the report said.

The new report released Monday was a “deeper review,” Cordray said. It confirmed there were disparities among employee evaluations by race, but said that the problems were far more extensive than previously known, including additional criteria like age and location.

The report found that “the average ratings for black and Hispanic employees were lower than the average ratings for white and Asian employees. The difference was statistically significant in both instances.”

The report said the average white employee received a 3.94 rating, compared with 3.81 for Asian employees, 3.69 for Hispanics and 3.63 for blacks.

Additionally, the report concluded that “ratings for white employees are more concentrated around the 4 and 5 ratings levels than black and Hispanic employees, and ratings for black and Hispanic  employees are concentrated in the 3 rating level.”