The Structure and Regulation of the Federal Home Loan Bank System

Position

  • The Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs) must remain a strong, stable, reliable source of funding for community banks.
  • The FHLBs’ special functions and purposes must be recognized and maintained under the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
  • The regional structure and cooperative nature of the FHLB system must be maintained as they best address the diverse needs of community bank members.
  • Many community banks rely on the FHLBanks’ mortgage programs for access to the secondary market. While this access point should be preserved, ICBA is concerned about proposals that would rely exclusively on the FHLBanks as the sole aggregators for community banks. Advances should remain the FHLBanks’ primary focus.
  • Mortgage loans sold to the FHLBs through their AMA programs should receive QM safe harbor status similar to those loans sold to or eligible to be sold to the GSEs.
  • ICBA opposes any legislation that will permit any new types of non-depository lender to access any FHLBank program or service either directly or indirectly.

Background

The vast majority of community banks are FHLB members and are active advance users or look to them as an alternative source of liquidity. Throughout the financial crisis, the FHLBs continued to provide advances to their members without disruption, while other segments of the capital markets ceased to function Community banks depend on their FHLBs for liquidity, asset/liability management and to enable them to match fund longer term loans. ICBA will work to ensure that as the administration and Congress consider changes to the housing finance system, the FHLBs remain a healthy, stable, reliable source of funding, liquidity and other products to serve the needs of all member-owners and help them provide lendable funds for the local communities they serve.

The FHLB system is owned and governed by its members and any move towards consolidation should develop from the grass roots level, based on what members perceive to be the best operational and/or geographic structure for their district FHLB to meet their needs. The regional structure of the FHLB system must be maintained as it best addresses the diverse needs of community bank members. The cooperative nature of the system also must be maintained with membership having a strong voice in governance. ICBA recognizes the need for both large and small institution membership and the benefits both bring to, and derive from, the system.

Staff Contact: Ron Haynie