Posts Tagged ‘banks’

Banking and finance roundup

September 14 roundup

George Will on settlement slush funds

George Will’s new column is on settlement slush funds, a favorite topic around here. A Wall Street Journal op-ed the other day by Andy Koenig observed that tens of millions of dollars from settlements with big banks by the Obama Department of Justice and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are being directed to liberal political groups allied with Obama and Schneiderman, rather than to customers or taxpayers. Earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.

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.