Posts Tagged ‘banks’

Banking and finance roundup

Banking and finance roundup

GOP platform calls for return of Glass-Steagall

Bernie Sanders rants and raves about the supposed need to go back to Glass-Steagall, the law that used to separate investment from commercial banking, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren agrees with him. And now so does… the Republican platform. [Bloomberg, WSJ, The Street (“Republican Finance Platform Designed To Pick Off Sanders Voters from Clinton”)] Do they realize that, according to many economists and financial experts on the left as well as most of the free-market types, the absence of the law had basically nothing to do with the bubble and crash of 2008? That crash arose from other financial misadventures, notably in the mortgage area. More: Iain Murray, Mark Calabria/Cato in 2012.

Banking and finance roundup

  • The Department of Justice cuts a settlement deal with Bank of America under which the bank agrees to give millions to liberal groups [Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner, Federalist Society blog rounding up criticisms]
  • Seizures under bank structuring law have hit small business owners who deposited cash in under-$10,000 amounts because their insurance policies wouldn’t cover cash-on-hand holdings above that amount [Ali Meyer/Free Beacon, earlier and generally]
  • “It is hereby enacted that Smith wins his lawsuit” statutes and the Bank Markazi (Iran funds) case [Michael Greve, Liberty and Law]
  • Second Circuit panel throws out $1.2 billion verdict against B of A over Countrywide mortgage lending, saying government didn’t prove fraud [Daniel Fisher, more]
  • “The crowdfunding catch: government regulations” [Thaya Brook Knight, Newsweek/Cato]
  • Too left-wing to get tenure at Harvard Law in era of the Crits. Now, to banks, “he’s judge and jury and everything else.” [Wall Street Journal profile of Fed governor Daniel Tarullo]

Frontiers of forfeiture: emptying pre-paid bank cards

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has become the latest law enforcement body to begin using “ERAD readers,” devices that allow police to freeze and seize any funds on pre-paid debit and credit cards, now used by many poorer and younger persons as a favored financial vehicle. The devices also allow police to obtain some data about conventional credit and ATM cards, but not, it appears from coverage, to freeze and seize funds in those accounts on the spot. “If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you,” said a police spokesman. Oklahoma “is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes.” [Aaron Brilbeck/News 9 Oklahoma, Clifton Adcock/Oklahoma Watchdog, Scott Greenfield (highway patrol’s views of what is and is not suspicious confer a great deal of arbitrary power), Justin Gardner/Free Thought Project last October on Arizona use]

Plus: “New Mexico Ended Civil Asset Forfeiture. Why Then Is It Still Happening?” [NPR] A car is stopped for “swerving,” and soon police have confiscated the $18,000 its owner was carrying for payroll and other expenses of her southern California janitorial business [ACLU of San Diego, p. 7, “It happened to me: Janitorial business”]

Unclaimed property: headed eventually for the Supreme Court?

I’ve got a new post at Cato at Liberty noting that Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, in a concurrence this spring, appear to be inviting a constitutional challenge to states’ administration of escheat (unclaimed property) law on due process grounds. [More on Taylor et al. v. Yee from Daniel Fisher at Forbes] While the immediate questions posed would likely be whether states are doing too little to notify owners and using too short a period of idleness (three years is becoming common), the fact patterns might conceivably implicate some of the other problems noted by businesses on the receiving end of these laws, which we discussed back in 2013 (more): creative redefinitions of unclaimed property and outside “auditors” incentivized by contingency fees to overreach in assessments.

The Associated Press took a look at the issue last fall; more background at Maria Koklanaris, Tax Analysts and Odds and Means.

Reflecting widespread business discontent, the U.S. Chamber has addressed the issue in a series of papers and its publications have covered problems in states like Illinois, as well as in California as well as profiling the firms that specialize in these collections, which in some cases have filed qui tam (bounty-hunting) suits for a share of the proceeds.

On Delaware in particular see the Wall Street Journal (more), Forbes, and Delaware State News. And the Wilmington News-Journal has published an extensive investigation of the escheat contractors’ ties to the Delaware political class.

Banking and finance roundup

Profs: considering credit history could violate rights of mentally ill

Various federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act, prohibit discrimination against disabled persons, and mental illness is a disability. And so — say three professors — businesses may be violating these laws by dinging credit applicants for poor credit history unless they make allowance for persons whose poor financial choices were the result of mental illness. Bonus: citation to authority of “United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which the United States has signed)” [Christopher Guzelian, Michael Ashley Stein, and H. S. Akiskal, SSRN via @tedfrank]

“When consumers want to create or join a class-action lawsuit…”

Hello, AP? The relevant “wanting” here is done by lawyers, not consumers. (“When consumers want to create or join a class-action lawsuit…”) And that’s kind of emblematic of how you miss the point on the Consumer Finance Protection Board’s big announcement of a rule yesterday rescuing many class action lawyers from the arbitration clauses to which their putative clients would otherwise have given legal consent.

More: BNA, James Copland, WSJ:

The industry reaction was swift, with Wall Street and its advocates warning of unintended consequences of the rule within hours of the CFPB proposing it on Thursday.

The change likely will result in higher litigation costs for banks, which they will offset either by raising the costs of consumer-loan products or reducing services, said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president for consumer protection and payments at the American Bankers Association, an industry group.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) called the proposed rule “a big, wet kiss to trial attorneys.”

And: Omri Ben-Shahar, Forbes:

While the overall effect on consumers depends on the balance between meritorious and frivolous class actions, one prediction can be made with confidence. Firms will now take greater care in drafting even longer fine print agreements, where everything is fully “disclosed.” Since many class actions allege violations that can often be corrected through more comprehensive legal disclosures and warnings, firms will lawyer up and write longer and even less readable boilerplate. The “asterisk” will be the winner — the routine disclaimers that accompany advertisements, as in: “Footlong is an average; reasonable variations may apply.” In the end, the CFPB’s proposed regulation will not improve the value of financial services to consumers. It will instead lavish upon people even longer and more excruciating small print.