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VOL. 123 | NO. 157 | Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Federal Reserve Finds Deepening Credit Crisis

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER | AP Economics Writer

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WASHINGTON (AP) - More banks are tightening lending standards on home mortgages and other consumer and business loans as a deepening credit crisis exerts a heavier toll on the economy.

The Federal Reserve said Monday the percentage of banks reporting tighter lending standards rose across various loan types in its July survey. In April, the central bank had found that the percentage of banks reporting tighter lending standards was already near historic highs.

The new survey, conducted in early July, found that about 75 percent of the banks surveyed indicated they had tightened their lending standards for prime mortgages. That was up from about 60 percent in the previous survey.

The Fed's July survey covered 50 banks which hold about 80 percent of the residential mortgages on the books of all commercial banks.

Out of this group of 50 banks, 32 said they were still originating so-called nontraditional home mortgages. Among these 32 banks, about 85 percent said they had tightened their lending standards, up from 75 percent who said they were tightening lending standards for nontraditional mortgages in the April survey.

The Fed defines nontraditional mortgages as interest-only loans and "Alt-A" mortgages that required limited verification of income.

The survey found that many banks had reported tightening their lending standards and terms on all major categories of consumer and business loans over the past three months.

About 65 percent of domestic banks - more than double the roughly 30 percent in the April survey - reported that they had tightened lending standards on credit card loans.

The current credit crisis hit with force a year ago with rising defaults in the market for subprime mortgage loans. The credit problems have since spread from subprime loans, mortgages provided to borrowers with weak credit histories, to other types of mortgages and other kinds of loans.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 91 158 16,219
MORTGAGES 98 179 18,735
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 23 2,484
BUILDING PERMITS 136 349 33,738
BANKRUPTCIES 63 115 10,429
BUSINESS LICENSES 30 47 5,350
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 29 6,302
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 52 3,563