Under a policy quietly formalized in 1998, the Fed refused to police lenders' compliance with federal laws protecting borrowers, despite repeated urging by consumer advocates across the country and even by other government agencies.
The hands-off policy, which the Fed reversed earlier this month, created a double standard. Banks and their subprime affiliates made loans under the same laws, but only the banks faced regular federal scrutiny. Under the policy, the Fed did not even investigate consumer complaints against the affiliates.
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