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.…
With no US economic news to influence the markets, the S&P 500 opened fractionally lower and sold off to its mid-morning -0.59% intraday low. The rest of the day was a slow recovery to within 0.01% of breaking even five minutes before final bell. But the afternoon recovery ran out of steam, and the index posted a -0.05% loss for the day. The 500 essentially duplicated the EURO STOXX 50, which posted a similar -0.08% at its close. In contrast, two headline Asia-Pacific indexes fared much worse: -1.01% for Japan's Nikkei 225 and -2.86% for China's Shanghai Composite.
The yield on the 10-year note closed at 2.79%, down 1 bp from Friday's close. The interim high was 3.04% at the end of 2013.
Here is a 5-minute snapshot of today's action with a bit of Friday afternoon for context.
Here is a chart showing the number of transactions that involve acquisitions of an asset management business by year. It tells us about a couple of trends developing in recent years.
1. Increasingly asset managers are bought by other asset managers in strategic acquisitions (and to a lesser degree by financial sponsors).
2. Banks have stopped acquiring asset management businesses. In fact what the chart doesn't tell us is that banks have been actively selling their asset management businesses (especially in alter...
The dramatic moves in fuel cell related stocks continues this week, with shares in Plug Power (Ticker: PLUG), FuelCell Energy (Ticker: FCEL) and Ballard Power Systems (Ticker: BLDP) beginning the trading week with explosive gains ahead of FuelCell Energy’s first-quarter earnings report after the closing bell, and following on the heels of a large order from Walmart for Plug Power, which the company confirmed in a press release on February 26th.
Shares in PLUG rose as much as 38% to touch $11.41 this afternoon, marking a near 150% move to the upside in the price of the underlying since Monday morning of last week when the stock opened at $4.60....
For those who have been following every twist and turn of the Ukrainian political crisis ever since its start in November of last year, the following post is likely a recap of familiar facts and dates. For everyone else, or those who just wish to plug the occasional hole in their memory, here is a full timeline of events that led to the coup that replaced the elected president Yanukovich - despite the signing of an agreement memorandum which was endorsed by Europe and the West keeping him in power and calling for presidential elections - with an acting president who has been classified as illegitimate by Russia, in exchange for which, as well as for numerous other reasons, Moscow has completely occupied th...
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After a requisite knee-jerk selloff, stock market bulls shook off Russia’s military action in Ukraine and Crimea as just another buying opportunity. Even adding the Russian Bear to their arsenal couldn’t give bears the upper hand for long. The S&P 500 large cap index set yet another all-time intraday high and closed at a new record high on Friday. Also, the Russell 2000 small cap index set new record intraday and closing highs last week north of 1200. However, the technical condition is getting overbought, and Sabrient’s SectorCast rankings have moved from bullish to a more neutral bias.
The eagerly-awaited jobs report on Friday showed greater jobs creation than expected in February, and January's figure was revised higher, as well. Friday was the S&P 500's fifth record closing high i...
Mt. Gox is well-known for creating one of the world's first Bitcoin trading posts. Unfortunately, in the company's most recent attempt to save its legacy, the virtual company has had to file for bankruptcy to protect its remaining assets, while trying to expand internationally.
Mt. Gox has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy proceedings in the United States. Chapter 15 bankruptcy is special because it often deals with cases and scenarios that are related to other countries as well. The goal of this proceeding is to combine efforts to come to a mutual agreement....
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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