Make us your home page
Instagram

Bank downgrades could hurt loans, credit cards

NEW YORK — When a major bank's credit rating is cut, it deals a psychological blow — to customers, the public and financial markets.

So Thursday's downgrading of 15 of the world's largest banks — including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs — is almost sure to cause wide concern. Most deposits are perfectly safe, but the downgrades could hurt people in more subtle ways: Banks may jack up fees and might be reluctant to lend, which could affect mortgages, credit cards and even the job market.

The downgrades come at a tenuous time for banks. An avalanche of new regulations adopted after the financial crisis has wiped out many of the fees they charged on credit cards and checking accounts. Banks are also barred from making lucrative bets in the stock and bond markets, eliminating billions of dollars in trading income.

So banks are now squeezing income from any place they can. Basic services that were once free now cost money. Checking accounts can cost $8, a bank statement, $3; canceling a check, $2. The list goes on.

In light of the lower ratings, existing fees might climb further, and new ones could appear.

The top ratings agencies — Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch — hold immense sway over how much every company and state or local government pays to borrow money. They assign ratings on a scale that determines the ability of those entities to pay down their debt.

The downgrades could eventually increase the banks' cost of borrowing in financial markets because investors will demand more interest when they lend the banks money. The downgrades also suck the capital out of banks. That's because all of the large banks sell insurance to investors to protect them from losses on bonds in case of a default.

The downgrades will force banks to set aside billions of dollars in additional reserves because the debt they are insuring has suddenly become riskier. Each notch in the ratings scale triggers automatic requirements for additional money a bank must set aside in reserves.

Because of those requirements, the downgrades will funnel money into reserves and reduce the amount of capital that banks have to lend.

Americans will experience it when they go to their banks for home mortgages, car loans and credit cards.

Small and medium-size businesses will feel the effects even more. They rely heavily on banks for loans to finance their operations because they don't have access to financial markets to raise debt in the same way that large corporations do.

Bank downgrades could hurt loans, credit cards 06/22/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 11:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  5. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]