Allen Fishbein, Esq., General Counsel for the Center for Community Change
"Dr. Thomas is the Diderot of CRA. Like the 18th century French philosopher from the "Age of Enlightenment," he has written an encyclopedic like reference work on a subject about which too little is known. The CRA Handbook pulls back the curtains and sheds important light on the newly instituted CRA regulatory compliance doctrines and methods. It is an essential read for anyone - lenders, community leaders, regulators - with an interest or stake in improving CRA enforcement."
David M. Geis, President/CEO of Jackson County Bank of Seymour, Indiana
"The CRA Handbook is a practical and useful tool for community banks like ours in effectively dealing with the various constituencies of Community Reinvestment."
Matthew Lee, Esq., Executive Director of Inner City Press/Community on the Move
"Ken Thomas has seen what he calls 'The CRA Wars' from both sides of the fence: as a consultant to banks seeking to improve their CRA records, and more recently, as an advisor to activist community groups and an engaged citizen commenting on the recent waves of bank mergers. These two perspectives, and Dr. Thomas' grounding in economics and antitrust law, have allowed him to compile the overview of the New CRA which regulators, banks and community groups all need to read, so that low and moderate income people finally achieve fair access to credit.
Community group's advocacy work will benefit from Dr. Thomas' detailed study of CRA's grade inflation; banks will learn how to better assess and design their CRA programs; and regulators should learn how to balance the public interest, including the credit need of low income neighborhoods, with their desire to approve bank mergers and ensure the vitality of the banking industry. In the middle of this triangle stands Ken Thomas, quick to critique an inflated CRA rating or an arbitrary approval, but just as quick to critique community groups who do not fight for the credit rights of residents of the neighborhoods they serve. No one else could have written this book."
Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate
"Ken Thomas has leveled a well-documented indictment of a major problem in the enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act -- the tendency of federal regulators to act like runaway diploma mills in handing out passing CRA grades to 98 percent of the nation's banks.
After analyzing all publicly available CRA examinations and filing dozens of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests, Dr. Thomas gives the current grading system no more than a "D+" and warns that CRA has 'no future if the cancerous grade inflation is not eliminated.'
Thomas lends new weight to the longstanding argument that regulators are far too friendly with the banks they regulate. Some, like the Federal Reserve, Thomas writes, act more 'like cheerleaders rather than objective referees balancing the interests of the industry and consumers.'
The book's findings raise extremely important public policy questions. Not only do the 'inflated ratings' distort the credit picture in low and moderate income neighborhoods, but they play a big role in what has become almost automatic regulatory approvals of bank mergers. The inflated 'everyone passes' ratings provide the regulators with a convenient tool with which to reject community protests about bank lending performance when merger applications are on the table.
Thomas outlines a series of new strategies to restore credibility to the CRA grading system. The ideas, whether you agree with them or not, are certain to raise a lively debate among regulators, bankers, and community activists. The book is a 'must read' for anyone concerned about the critical need to move back credit into low and moderate income urban and rural neighborhoods."
William D. Powell, Chairman/CEO of the Union Planters Bank of America
"Dr. Thomas is one of the country's foremost experts on the subject of the Community Reinvestment Act and posseses the knowledge, writing style, and common sense approach that maintains one's attention. The CRA Handbook is a comprehensive analysis of the new CRA procedures and is a 'must-read' reference work for anyone - banker, regulator, or consumer - who is interested in understanding the CRA process."
William E. Simon, Former Treasury Secretary
"I'm an admirer of your book and use it in my teaching at Stanford and Harvard law schools."
John E. Taylor, President/CEO, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
"The CRA Handbook has no peer publication. It is the most comprehensive and accurate portrayal of the business of community reinvestment lending under CRA. This book is required reading for anyone serious about economic justice and moving private capital into poor neighborhoods."
Copyright 2021 by Kenneth H. Thomas, Ph.D.