Economic Experts Weigh In on How to Help the Middle Class

I think banks are vital part of our society. Without them we have no business, we have no jobs, we have no growth potential. If the banks are taking something out of society without giving back, in terms of outrageous fees and expenses, that has an equally negative impact.

It should be a balanced relationship, as members of the community, prepared to do good for society. Banks have to lend, but they have to lend responsibility. Forcing them to lend to get money out there as they did in the case of bad loans is counterproductive. We ought to involve them to develop programs to lend, to create jobs, to help communities. I for one am a supporter of the Community Reinvestment Act, very important program.

But the banks have got to be partners in any effort to restore economic stability and to grow the American economy. They have to act responsibly, but that doesn't mean they have to give away money just for the sake of giving it away. There has to be a sense of responsibility for lender and borrower.

Banks, along with other elements of society, have a responsibly to help average Americans who are struggling, yes. We are in a desperate situation today and the banks are one of those elements in our society that are critical to the restoration of economic stability. Do the banks have to do more than usual? Yes, but so do we all.

Banks have got to be creative in terms of lending that stimulates business and creates jobs. I personally believe banks need to take a more active role in cultural institutions because I have never seen a community where the death of the cultural institution hasn't been bad for business. There is an amazing parallel between the health of cultural institutions and growth of business in that community. Communities with healthy cultural institutions are the best ones in which to do business.

In our polarized society today where politicians are playing blood sport to kill one another, it is essential that banks and communities begin to work together rather than throwing bombs at one another. I think it is a responsibility of banks to reach out to communities, not only for the community's survival but the banks' as well.

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