Daily Archives: February 23, 2016

Giant title loan companies argue they are people too


Though they operate thousands of branches across the country, the nation’s three biggest auto title lenders want Virginia officials to treat them as private citizens and afford them the same right to keep their financial records out of public view.

The three lenders — TitleMax of Virginia Inc.; Anderson Financial Services LLC, doing business as Loan Max; and Fast Auto Loans Inc. — have filed legal arguments asking Virginia officials to prevent financial reports they submitted to the state from being disclosed to the Center for Public Integrity.

The annual reports include detailed sales figures, volume of loans, interest rates, the number of cars repossessed when borrowers default, and how often the lenders get into trouble with state and federal regulators. TitleMax, Loan Max and Fast Auto Loans submitted heavily redacted reports last month at the request of the commission before its hearing.

In defending the redacted reports, the companies argued in their latest filings that the reports constitute “personal financial information” that should be exempt from disclosure, just as it would be for any person.

“Fast Auto’s personal financial information should be treated as confidential just as an individual’s personal financial information would be treated,” the company wrote in its filing submitted Friday.

Read on.

U.S. banks put the squeeze on cash-strapped energy firms: JP Morgan

U.S. banks are finally putting tougher lending constraints on cash-strapped energy firms and, on average, such companies could see a 15 percent to 20 percent cut in their credit lines, the head of JP Morgan’s (>> JPMorgan Chase & Co.) commercial bank told investors on Tuesday.

Until now, banks have been lenient with their energy clients despite a prolonged slump in the price of oil, but Doug Petno, the head of JP Morgan’s commercial bank, said that was changing.

Read on.

CFPB orders Citibank to pay customers over debt and collections practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Tuesday it ordered Citibank to pay $5 million (£3.5 million) back to customers and $3 million in penalties over its debt sales and collection practices.

In a statement, the agency said it took action against the financial services company for selling credit card debt with inflated interest rates and for not forwarding consumer payments promptly to debt buyers.

Read on.

Bank of America now offers 3% down mortgages without mortgage insurance

Bank of America unveiled a new affordable mortgage program that offers consumers the option of putting as little as 3% down and requires no mortgage insurance. The program does not involve the Federal Housing Administration, whose program has recently undergone a lot of scrutiny from big banks.

Bank of America announced a partnership on Monday with Self-Help Ventures Fund and Freddie Mac for its new “Affordable Loan Solution” mortgage, a conforming loan that provides low- and moderate-income homebuyers access to a responsible lending product with counseling at affordable entry prices.

Read on.

Female student: No, John Kasich, I don’t want Taylor Swift tickets


Presidential candidate John Kasich is so out of touch with young voters. Way to go for the female student calling him out.

“I didn’t go to a town hall forum for Taylor Swift tickets, Gov. Kasich. I went because it’s my civic duty to be an informed voter. Please start treating me like one.”

The Collegian newspaper:

My hand was raised, my body half-way out of my back-row seat, when Gov. John Kasich finally acknowledged me.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets,” he said, his eyes meeting mine.

The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.

On Monday morning, hundreds of students and community members poured into the Jepson Alumni Center to ask questions of the presidential candidate. When my friends and I arrived, we were asked to sit in a special section directly behind where Kasich would speak. We declined, but other students filled the seats. It was clear they were put there for the cameras with the expectation that they wouldn’t speak.

Kasich’s opening statements painted a picture of an ambitious son of a mailman’s rise to success, citing anecdotes about his college years, including one in which he met with President Nixon as a freshman. He continued on to give advice to students, lecturing on lack of spirituality and drug usage. “I know I’m going to sound like your dad, but don’t mess around with the drugs,” Kasich said.

While the lectures were condescending, the real issue was that Kasich chose not to listen to students in his forum. Most of the questions came from older members of the community, many vocalizing their support of Kasich before throwing him a softball question. Kasich barreled through a Planned Parenthood question, dismissing the young woman who posed it, and derided me when I had the audacity to raise my hand. Kasich came to Richmond to pander to retired Republicans. He could gain points by belittling me and my peers, so that’s what he did.

What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke. The same passion that drove Kasich to speak with President Nixon drove me to ask the candidate a question I care deeply about. In a way, I was taking the governor’s advice: “Always ask.”



And didn’t know that then MSNBC host Ed Schultz was fired because his stance on TPP.

The Intercept:

MSNBC cut away from a live Bernie Sanders press conference this afternoon as the Democratic presidential candidate was talking about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Watch the cutaway:

“You’ve been listening to Bernie Sanders, less of a press conference, more of a speech. I want to turn back to the Republican side of things,” said Kate Snow, as she pivoted to news of Ted Cruz firing a press spokesperson.

MSNBC owner Comcast has lobbied for the TPP. Last year, it fired host Ed Schultz, an outspoken opponent of the agreement.

San Bernardino County Had Software That Could Have Given FBI Access to Shooter’s iPhone

San Bernardino County had software that could have given the Federal Bureau of Investigation full access to the iPhone it lent to its former employee Syed Rizwan Farook, but the software wasn’t installed on the suspect’s device.

The county was testing the software, and the department where Mr. Farook worked hadn’t signed up for the test, said David Wert, a San Bernardino County spokesman.

Mr. Farook’s mobile phone is at the center of a high-profile dispute between the U.S. Department of Justice and Apple Inc. The FBI wants Apple to build tools that will help it circumvent the iPhone’s built-in data protection measures. Apple has refused to do this, saying the government is effectively trying to force it to put a backdoor in all of its devices, which would undermine all its customers’ privacy.

Mr. Farook had no guarantee of privacy on the device regardless of Apple’s commitment to protecting customer information, since it was owned by his employer.

Read on.

London Whale’ Breaks Silence

The trader at the center of the “London Whale” trading debacle broke nearly four years of silence by taking aim at former employer J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., saying he was made a scapegoat for trades that were “initiated, approved, mandated and monitored” by senior management.

Bruno Iksil also said that he resents the London Whale nickname, which was devised by rival traders to dramatize the size of J.P. Morgan’s bets in corporate-debt markets.

In a single-spaced letter exceeding three pages and sent to publications including Financial News, Mr. Iksil contends the bank and the news media misrepresented his role in the 2012 episode, which led to more than $6 billion in losses for the nation’s largest bank and a handful of personnel changes.

“For no good reason, I was singled out by the media,” Mr. Iksil writes.

Read on.

Former LandCastle Title CEO Nat Hardwick arrested on federal embezzlement charges

Nathan (Nat) Hardwick, the former chief executive officer of LandCastle Title and former managing partner of Morris Hardwick Schneider, was arrested Monday morning in downtown Atlanta by federal authorities on charges relating to allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars from his former companies.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Hardwick and Asha Maurya, the firm’s former chief financial officer, were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and related crimes in connection with Hardwick’s alleged theft of over $20 million from the attorney escrow accounts and operating accounts of Morris Hardwick Schneider and LandCastle Title.

Read on.