Too Small to Fail

While the behemoths of Wall Street stumble and fall, humble local banks are doing just fine, thank you. Their surprising resilience holds a key lesson for twenty-first-century global finance.

hen Paul Hudson, the chairman and CEO of Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles, speaks of the current financial crisis, he sounds altogether placid. “Its going to be difficult, because everybody participated in this low-cost-credit, high-value-asset scenario,” he says. “But Im not overly stressed.” It helps that his own bank is doing fine. Broadway Federal, founded in 1946 to provide loans to the growing African American community of Los Angeles, is a small institution with five branches located in middle-class, largely black neighborhoods of the city. It has eighty-four employees, assets of $390 million, and a loan portfolio divided more or less equally among single-family homes, apartment buildings, churches, commercial real estate, and small businesses.

Phillip Longman

Phillip Longman is senior editor at the Washington Monthly and the policy director at the Open Markets Institute.

T. A. Frank