Daily Archives: May 5, 2016

‘Low-interest-rate’ Trump wants to replace Yellen, refinance U.S. debt

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday positioned himself on the far left of the political spectrum on fiscal issues, coming out for low interest rates, against a strong dollar and a more aggressive managing of U.S. debt.

In a wide-ranging phone conversation with CNBC, Trump said he would replace Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen when her term expires in 2018, though he didn’t really offer up any criticism of her.

“I have nothing against Janet Yellen whatsoever, she’s very capable person. But she’s not a Republican,” Trump said. “When her time is up I would most likely replace because of the fact it would be appropriate.
“She is a low interest rate person, she’s always been a low-interest-rate person, and let’s be honest, I’m a low-interest-rate person,” Trump added.

Trump shifted to a discussion of the impact that higher rates has on the dollar, and on the impact a rising dollar has on U.S. business.

“If we raise interest rates and if the dollar starts getting too strong, we’ll have some very major problems.”

Read on.

New Jersey Bank Pays Directors More Than at Any Finance Firm

  • Investors Bancorp directors paid average $3.85 million in 2015
  • Median pay for directors at Russell 3000 companies is $184,000

Short Hills, New Jersey, is among the richest communities in the U.S. The directors of a local savings and loan get paid accordingly.

Members of Investors Bancorp’s board made an average of $3.85 million in 2015, the company reported in an April proxy statement, eclipsing director pay at every Wall Street firm. Among companies in the Russell 3000 Index, only directors at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. fared better. Board members at both companies saw their paydays swell thanks to grants of stock and options.

The Investors Bancorp directors received their awards after the firm’s transition from a mutual holding company to one wholly owned by public shareholders in a second-step conversion that raised $2.2 billion of new equity, the bank said. The equity grants vest over five years, the company’s annual report shows.

Read on.

Trump Picks Former Goldman Sachs Partner And Soros Employee As Finance Chairman

In an oddly ironic twist, today Donald Trump announced that he has picked as chairman of his newly launched fundraising operation none other than a former employee of the bank he has repeatedly criticized in the past, and which he used as a foil to criticize Ted Cruz: Goldman Sachs.

Trump announced that heading up his own personal fundraising operation as national finance chairman will be Steven Mnuchin, a long-time business associate, chairman and CEO of the hedge fund Dune Capital. More importantly, however, he spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs where he was most recently a Partner, having built a fortung of $46 million before launching his own hedge fund.

While employed at Goldman, he purchased the remains of IndyMac Bank (now known as OneWest Bank), the Pasadena, California-based mortgage lender that collapsed in 2008. “Notoriously press-shy, the executive endured 2011 protests on the lawn of his Bel Air mansion by foreclosed homeowners angered at his lender’s handling of soured mortgages.”

As Zero Hedge readers are familiar, Trump often critized his main competitor Ted Cruz for his links to the bank because of loans used to finance Cruz’s Senate campaign, and because Heidi Cruz was a one-time employee of Goldman. “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton,” Trump said in one debate.

Read on.

So Sue Them: What We’ve Learned About the Debt Collection Lawsuit Machine

ProPublica spent years gathering data to shed light on how debt collectors use the courts. Today, we run through the most important lessons we learned about a tactic that affects millions.

Millions of Americans live with the possibility that, at any moment, their wages or the cash in their bank accounts could be seized over an old debt. It’s an easily ignored part of America’s financial system, in part due to a common attitude that people who don’t pay their debts deserve what’s coming to them.

A couple of years ago, we set out to find out more about the growing use of the courts to collect consumer debts. How many lawsuits are filed? Who is filing them? Who is getting sued?

The suits are filed in state and local courts, and many states rely on antiquated systems or only keep data at the county level. We ultimately collected what details we could from a variety of states and large, urban counties. Then, we wrote a series of stories sharing what we found:

But there’s a lot more to understand about the rise of this legal tactic — one that continues to alarm judges who see it firsthand.

Read on.

Shepherds Say They’re Paid Just $2 an Hour

RENO, Nev. (CN) — A class of Nevada shepherds claims they are paid just $1 to $2 an hour, in violation of state and federal labor laws.
Most shepherds in the Western United States are from South America. An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 shepherds work on H-2A visas in the United States.
Lead plaintiff Abel Cántaro Castillo, a native of Peru, sued the Western Range Association, El Tejon Sheep Company and its owner Melchor Gragirena, on Tuesday in Federal Court.
Cántaro says he was paid “a shockingly low wage of as little as one or two dollars an hour” to work for El Tejon Sheep in California and Nevada. El Tejon, based in Bakersfield, Calif., has a ranch near Elko, Nev.
Cántaro says his terms of employment were set by the Western Range Association, which makes all shepherds sign similar employment contracts.
No contact information could be found for El Tejon Sheep Co. The Western Range Association does not provide contact information on its website — the most recent post on it is dated June 20, 2014.
Cántaro says the Western Range Association’s policy is to pay Nevada shepherds as little as $800 per month, an effective wage of $1 to $2 an hour.
Cántaro worked for El Tejon ranch from 2007 until June 2014, in cultivated farmland from mid-October to mid-April, on the outskirts of Bakersfield.
Most of the time, he says, he was within walking distance of three- and four-lane highways, just a short drive from ranch owner Melchor Gragirena’s home.
Federal law allows ranchers to pay less than minimum wage for ranch work done in remote areas, where it’s difficult to track how many hours a shepherd works. But Cántaro says most of the work at El Tejon was “farming and other non-herding work just off well-trafficked highways and on cultivated farmland” and often under direct supervision by Gargirena or the ranch foreman.

Read on.

CFPB’s rule to limit arbitration opens door to class action against banks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comment on a new proposed regulation that would prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses that deny groups of consumers their day in court, putting into motion discussions that started toward the end of last year.

Arbitration clauses generally require that if there’s a dispute, parties must first try to resolve the issue through an arbitration process before going the formal route of a lawsuit. Some require arbitration in lieu of lawsuits, and the arbitrator is hired by the banks.

The CFPB argues that these clauses that are used in financial products like credit cards and bank accounts generally prevent consumers from joining together to sue their bank or financial company for wrongdoing.

“Signing up for a credit card or opening a bank account can often mean signing away your right to take the company to court if things go wrong,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Many banks and financial companies avoid accountability by putting arbitration clauses in their contracts that block groups of their customers from suing them. Our proposal seeks comment on whether to ban this contract gotcha that effectively denies groups of consumers the right to seek justice and relief for wrongdoing.”

Read on.

Fannie Mae CEO: Private capital unwilling to step into mortgages

The CEO of Fannie Mae offered quite an eye opener to me on the phone this morning.

For all the calls to reduce the roles Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play in the mortgage finance world, Timothy Mayopoulos shared this point: Private capital is “unwilling to step in” to replace the government-sponsored enterprises as mortgage finance leaders in the secondary market.

While shifting some of the risk to the private markets is extremely successful, Mayopoulos feels that, for now, investors “trust the intermediary role we play.”

“They trust our data. They trust the way we manage mortgage servicers. They trust the way we manage delinquencies,” Mayopoulos said.

Pointing to today’s earnings report, Mayopoulos notes that the quality of loans being produced at Fannie Mae are better than ever before.

Read on.

Michael Bloomberg Tells Michigan Grads They Must Defeat Bernie’s Plan to Jail Wall Street Felons

By  William K. Black
May 2, 2016      Bloomington, MN

Michael Bloomberg has just published, in Bloomberg, what he describes as “an adaptation of an address to the University of Michigan’s class of 2016.”  Having graduated twice from Michigan, as did our eldest, I was intrigued.  Bloomberg’s title was “Here’s Your Degree.  Now Go Defeat Demagogues.”  What Bloomberg means is that he is frightened that so many young people supported the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and support Bernie Sanders.  I’ve written before about Bloomberg, a Wall Street billionaire, and the myths he tries to spread about Bernie.  Wall Street elites fear Bernie.  They know he won’t take their money, he will end the systemically dangerous banks, and he will imprison their leading felons.  Bloomberg’s hate for, and fear of, Bernie is perfectly rational.  Why he thinks that Michigan students will take his advice and learn to love Wall Street’s felons is a lot less clear.

Bloomberg conflates Trump attacking Mexicans as rapists and Muslims as terrorists with Bernie promising to prosecute elite Wall Street felons for their crimes and have the wealthy pay taxes far lower than they paid under President Eisenhower.

Our country is facing serious and difficult challenges. But rather than offering realistic solutions, candidates in both parties are blaming our problems on easy targets who breed resentment. For Republicans, it’s Mexicans here illegally and Muslims. And for Democrats, it’s the wealthy and Wall Street. The truth is: We cannot solve the problems we face by blaming anyone.

In context, Bloomberg’s advice to students to “defeat” any elected official who would hold Wall Street’s felons accountable for their crimes is even more incoherent than it appears on its face.  Indeed, I will show why this is so in three different contexts.

Read on.

Yes, The Banksters Went There: Big Banks Just Claimed A Constitutional Right To A Taxpayer Subsidy

The welfare queen banksters now claim that they are entitled to taxpayer subsidies…Congress want to cut entitlement programs in which people have paid into yet Congress never got around to cut off the welfare queen banksters of receiving taxpayer subsidies…

WASHINGTON — Big banks get a lot of free money from the federal government. And their lobbyists think they have a constitutional right to it.

Each year, the government pays billions of dollars to banks to thank them for being part of the Federal Reserve system. These payments aren’t structured to influence or encourage any particular business activity — banks just get straight cash, no matter what they do. The subsidy is economically useless. It doesn’t push interest rates lower or boost pay for bank tellers or help more farmers qualify for loans. The money just goes straight to the bottom line, boosting bank profits.

Late last year, Congress passed a law limiting these payouts, using the savings to help pay for a highway bill. While lawmakers originally proposed trimming the subsidy by $17 billion over five years, the legislation ultimately only cost banks $2.7 billion, thanks to a late compromise that allowed smaller banks to keep receiving full payment. Since the subsidies are scaled to the size of each bank, the lion’s share of the $2.7 billion will come from a small number of big firms.

The top lobbyist for the American Bankers Association wrote a letter to the Fed last week calling the subsidy cuts “an unconstitutional taking of member banks’ property without compensation.”

“The government’s actions … amount to a regulatory taking of member banks’ property,” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols wrote.

You read that correctly. A bank lobbyist argued that banks have a constitutional right to free money from the government.

The bank subsidy is a century-old relic from the earliest days of the Federal Reserve. When the United States established a central bank in 1914, it didn’t require all banks to participate in the new regulatory regime. Instead, Congress encouraged banks to take part by offering to pay a healthy dividend on stock that banks purchased in the new central banking system. This practice eventually became obsolete when Congress granted the Fed blanket power to regulate commercial banks whether they opted into the central banking system or not.

Read on.