Obama: A Safe Bet for Depository Institutions Too!

Michelle makes a good point below. There’s also a good case that an Obama administration will be good news for those who favor depository institution reform. Some background: Right now, three major types of depository institutions–banks, thrifts, and credit unions–provide pretty similar services to Americans. All make loans, offer checking accounts, and provide certain types of investments. Each one has different regulatory requirements. Although enormous differences exist, it’s fair to say that credit unions generally face the most government oversight while thrifts face the least.

Although they emerged for distinct reasons–credit unions for people who couldn’t get banking services elsewhere, thrifts to provide mortgages, and banks for everything else–these reasons have long since fallen by the wayside and the institutions compete based more on regulatory niche than actual desire to meet their customers’ whims.

It would be better to consolidate all three types of institutions under one type of liberal charter that combines the best of all worlds. Every institution should have the lower-tax status of credit unions, banks’ freedom to make whatever loans their customers want, and thrifts’ freedom to open branches wherever they want.

The most concrete move to do this–substantial deregulation of credit unions through the Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act–attracted most support from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

It’s a good idea and I’d think that it should attract the support of an Obama administration.