When federal regulators sold failed First Republic Bank to JPMorgan Chase earlier this month without conditions, they took extraordinary measures to protect wealthy depositors but neglected the needs of vulnerable California communities. Overnight, customers of California-based First Republic became customers of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank that currently has no reinvestment commitment to California communities and is considered one of the top financiers of the oil and gas industry—which is directly fueling climate change.
The needs of local communities should guide the decision-making process of federal banking regulators. While the JPMorgan Chase deal is already done, there are still opportunities for JPMorgan Chase to do what’s right to ensure vulnerable communities in California are not left behind.
JPMorgan Chase should commit to zero closures of bank branches in LMI neighborhoods and communities of color, fund all affordable housing projects and philanthropy commitments that were in the First Republic Bank pipeline, stop financing new fossil fuel extraction projects, and commit to a community benefits plan for California that accounts for the loss of First Republic Bank. Banking regulators need to supervise banks better, account for climate-related financial risks, and prioritize community concerns during all mergers.
We cannot continue to allow banks to grow bigger and bigger while leaving communities behind.