Banks loosen lending standards for fourth straight year: U.S. regulator

(RECAP: Large U.S. banks raised their own risks by pushing down lending standards for a fourth consecutive year in 2016, one of the top federal banking regulators said on Tuesday. The banks loosened underwriting standards mostly in direct consumer loans, conventional home equity, commercial real estate loans, and residential mortgages, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) found in its annual survey. The office saw double-digit increases in the percentage of banks that eased underwriting practices in those products since 2015 and said many banks want to continue lowering the standards. Looking at 90 percent of the debt in the federal banking system, equal to $5.2 trillion, the OCC found that banks are easing standards because of competition from other banks and nonfinancial firms, their appetite for risk is expanding, and they are seeking to make more loans.)