As reported on HuffPost last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed opposition to the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner’s views.
One can assume that Geithner, being very close to the nation’s biggest banks, is concerned that Warren, if chosen, will exercise her new policing and enforcement powers to restrict those abusive practices at our commercial banks that have been harmful to consumers and depositors.
Certainly, Warren is not the commercial banking industry’s first pick to serve in this new role. And unlike other legislation in which an industry’s lobbying effort would naturally slow or cease once the legislation is passed, the new financial reform bill is continuing to attract enormous lobbying action from the banks. The reason is simple. The bill has been written to put a great deal of power as to how strongly it is implemented in the hands of its regulators, some of which remain to be chosen. The bank lobby will work incredibly hard to see that Warren, the person most responsible for initiating and fighting for the idea of a consumer financial protection group, is denied the opportunity to head it.
But this is not the only reason that Geithner is opposed to Warren’s nomination. I believe Geithner sees the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as a threat to the very scheme he has utilized to date to hide bank losses, thus keeping the banks solvent and out of bankruptcy court and their existing management teams employed and well-paid.
There are a lot of reasons to like the idea of a consumer financial protection agency. My colleagues Barbara Kiviat and Michael Grunwald have made the more substantive ones here, here and here. But I think I have stumbled across possibly the most telling data point yet on why the CFPA is likely a good idea: Jamie Dimon is scared of debating Elizabeth Warren on the topic. It’s not because Dimon is not passionate about the topic. Privately, Dimon and other JP Morgan exeuctives have been strongly making their case in Washington against starting a new agency, even one housed at the Fed, to monitor consumer protection in the banking business.
But when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called a top J.P. Morgan executive to ask for the bank’s support in creating a new consumer-protection agency, the executive—former Commerce Secretary William Daley—said no, according to people familiar with the conversation. His boss believed that sufficient consumer safeguards were already on the books.
Nonetheless, I have put some phone calls in and Dimon is unwilling to take Warren on in person and debate the topic. Dimon is a smart guy. So the fact that he is scared to debate Warren on the topic means that he knows he can’t win. Here’s why:
First a recap. Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard law professor that also heads up the Congressional Oversight Panel, which has monitored the TARP program with hearings and studies. A few years ago, after studying a number of abusive lending practices regularly engaged in by the nation’s largest banks, she came up with the idea of launching a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. In Warren’s vision, it would be federally funded and separate from other regulators. It’s only job would be to assess whether the loans and other products sold by banks are fair and safe for consumers. Much like the FDA does for drugs. Obama loves the idea. And so it has been batted around as part of the reform effort, and is included, in a weaker form, in Dodd’s reform bill. Here’s what FDIC chief Sheila Bair had to say about Warren and her proposal in the TIME 100 this week:
A bunch of legendary comedians got together to make a sketch, where the punchline is: "establish a Consumer Financial Protection Agency". It’s kinda a funny, but mostly because of the Darrell Hammond’s imitation of Clinton making sexual innuendos, and Fred Armisen’s impersonation of Barack Obama. It seems director Ron Howard was trying to find something to ‘do good’, so he chatted with the earnest and overeducated Elizabeth Warren, and decided consumer financial regulation was the kind of smart idea that would obviously work. After all, who’s against consumer protection?
I am! This is the same government that goaded banks to lower standard to lend more to historically damaged communities, and then when those borrowers defaulted, blamed such lending on the banks. Avoiding the poor is redlining, targeting the poor is predatory, which means, whatever goes wrong can be blamed on the banks. Government always wants to have its cake and eat it too: low taxes & high spending, high growth and union-type work rules, banks lending more today and raising their capital.
The CFPA tries to do what most regulators try to do: improve efficiency, eliminate waste, consolidate regulations,simplify regulations, protect consumers, and protect jobs! It seems banks are greedy and basically uregulated, leading directly to the 2008 housing crisis. There are seven government bodies already regulating banks, highlighting how incredibly naive this proposal is. If there’s a magic bullet for improving efficiency, etc., share it with existing regulators…unless you think that all the regulators have been captured by some interest group, which if true just means we are bringing in one more interest group to advocate why they should get a better deal.
More importantly, if your concern is about the irrational poor people easily duped by huckster bankers, lower prices and penalties on the poor doesn’t help them, it enables them. Life has carrots and sticks, and one definition of a vice is that which generates bad outcomes in the long run. If you are constantly overdrafting your account, don’t have enough money to make a 20% down payment on a property, you need better financial discipline. Helping the poor from being trapped by debt should try to minimize they amount of debt they have, say by increasing rather than lowering prices on credit cards.…
The S&P 500 went nowhere today, snapping a decelerating two-day rally. Trading action exhibited virtual paralysis, the second narrowest intraday trading range of the year to date. Why? With one day to go before the Memorial Day weekend, the market's focus is probably what Janet Yellen will say after she receives this year's Radcliffe Medal, presented annually to an individual who has had a transformative impact on society. Will she give us any clues about a rate hike? The 500 ended the session with a 0.02% loss.
The yield on the 10-year note closed at 1.83%, down four basis points from the previous close.
In a world where fundamentals don't matter, everyone's attention will be on Janet Yellen who speaks at 1:15pm today in Harvard, hoping to glean some more hints about the Fed's intentionas and next steps, including a possible rate hike in June or July. And with a long holiday in both the US and UK (US bond market closes at 2pm today), it is no surprise overnight trading volumes have been dreadful, helping keep global equities poised for the highest close in three weeks; this won't change unless Yellen says something that would disrupt the calm that’s...
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
Donald Trump will be good for economy, bad for Wall Street: David Rosenberg
Published on May 25, 2016
Live from the 2016 Strategic Investment Conference
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Hello, everyone who has joined us on the second day of SIC 2016. It’s going to be a long and exciting day. Today, we’ll hear speeches from George Friedman, Lacy Hunt, David Rosenberg, and other well-known financial and political experts. We’ll also do video interviews with each speaker, and all of th...
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Do you remember when you were growing up and all your friends were allowed Atari game consoles but you weren’t?
Well, I do and the things seemed as foreign to me as Venus. Mostly because the little time I managed to spend on the gaming consoles when my friends weren’t hogging them I found it all a bit silly. I never “got” computer games, and to this day still have poor comprehension of things like Angry Birds.
I suspect that many people around the world view Bitcoin in the same way as I view Angry Birds: with mild amusement and a general lack of understanding as to what the hell all the fuss is about.
I was thinking of this since a buddy of mine recently started ...
After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
Although we try to stay focused on finding and managing promising trade ideas, the comments in the comment section sometimes take a political turn (for access, try PSW — click here!). So today, Jean Luc writes,
The GOP debate last night was just unreal – are these people running to be president of the US or to lead a college fraternity! Comparing tool size? The only guy that looks semi-sane is Kasich. The other guys are just like 3 jackals right now.
And something else – if Trump is the candidate, that little Romney speech yesterday is probably already being made into a commercial. And all these little snippets from the debate will also make some nice ads! If you are a conservative, you have to be scared now.
Phil writes back,
I was expecting them to start throwing poop at each other &n...
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