Daily Archives: January 5, 2017

GOP’s repeal and replace Obamacare in one cartoon

Open Thread - Dive In!

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Be careful what you tweet: Bernie Sanders just trolled Trump from the Senate floor — with one of his own tweets

And a great speech by Bernie…

NY creates “bill of rights” for residents facing foreclosure

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York state has published a “bill of rights” for home owners facing foreclosure.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the move Wednesday. It’s one piece of a broader effort to help New Yorkers struggling to stay in their homes.

The bill of rights reminds residents that they have the right to stay in their home and the duty to maintain it during the foreclosure process. It also lets residents known they have a right to be properly notified before a foreclosure suit is filed.

Read on.

Deutsche Bank To Fork Over $95M In US Tax Avoidance Settlement

Law360, New York (January 4, 2017, 8:20 PM EST) — Deutsche Bank AG will fork over $95 million to end the U.S. government’s suit accusing it of trying to avoid paying taxes by setting up shell companies, according to a settlement approved Wednesday in a New York federal court.

The settlement comes after the government sued Deutsche Bank in December 2014 for allegedly engaging in a tax evasion scheme by setting up shell companies to hide profits on the appreciation of stock that the bank purchased in 1999. (AP) The settlement, which received the stamp of…

Law360

Jay Clayton, Wall Street lawyer, is Trump pick to lead SEC

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be the next top cop of Wall Street is Jay Clayton, an elite lawyer who has defended big banks for their financial crisis-era misbehavior.

Clayton has extensive ties to Wall Street. He advised Goldman Sachs on its government bailout and his wife Gretchen currently works at the bank as a private wealth advisor.

Trump announced his SEC pick on Wednesday and explained that Clayton’s background as a Wall Street lawyer will help unleash the “job-creating power” of the economy while still providing strong oversight.

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CFPB Looks To Regulate Overdrafts In 2017

The CFPB is casting a critical eye on overdraft fees charged by banks — despite facing an uncertain future in the Trump administration.

The Dodd-Frank-enabled consumer protection group has long been making noises about limiting the fees banks can charge consumers for overdrawing their accounts — and now it seems it will drop a new set of governing rules later this year.

Consumer advocates have long noted that overdraft fees have quietly become a surging source of income for banks. Some observers said that revenue from overdraft fees now outpaces that from pawn shops, payday lenders and tax-refund anticipation checks put together. These advocates argued that banks have essentially found new ways to make consumers foot the bill in the face of profit-dropping low interest rates.

“[Overdrafts] allow customers to spend money they don’t have — then punish them for it,” noted Josh Reich, cofounder and CEO of Simple, an online bank based in Portland, Ore. The seven-year-old bank has never allowed account balances to go below zero and never will.

“Big banks are preying on people when they need financial help the most,” he claimed.

And some big banks have made some pretty big bucks on overdrafts.

Read on.

Wells Fargo, no longer creating fake accounts, now making profits from overdraft fees

Wells Fargo’s income from overdraft charges grew by 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016. Compared to its national bank peers, that rate is more than 5 times the average and, ultimately, likely to be a point of concern for consumer banking regulators who have vowed to set new rules on overdrafts in the second half of 2017.

According to the Financial Times, the other top overdraft fee-earners in the country (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, TD Bank and US Bank) averaged a 1.3 percent increase in overdraft-related income.

Each of the five banks maintain a policy to charge a one-time overdraft fee of $34 to $36 on accounts that drop below a $0 balance.

Wells Fargo associated its third-quarter rise in overdraft income to the growing number of customers that are using their accounts for debit card purchases and online bill payments.

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Mnuchin Declines Reply to Sen. Brown’s Letter Before Panel Review

  • Mnuchin won’t circumvent Senate process with reply letter
  • His Treasury chief nomination is subject to Senate approval

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin has declined to answer questions from a Democratic senator about his views on financial regulations, sanctions and his time as head of a bank accused of unfair foreclosure practices.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the banking committee, sent a letter on Dec. 21 asking Mnuchin to detail his position by Jan. 6 on issues that are under the committee’s purview, including fair lending laws and foreclosure-prevention programs. Mnuchin doesn’t plan to respond to the senator in writing, though several weeks ago he requested a meeting with Brown, who hasn’t yet accepted, according to Mnuchin’s spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw.

“Mnuchin will work with Senator Brown within the protocol of the finance committee — and will not be providing written answers in advance of a deadline yet to be established by the finance committee,” Bradshaw told Bloomberg on Tuesday in an e-mailed reply to questions.

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David Dayen on DemocracyNow who exposed a memo that reveals Mnuchin’s bank may have engaged in “widespread misconduct” while foreclosing on homeowners

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Trump’s pick for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who faces a—who faces scrutiny for his role at OneWest, a bank which has been called a “foreclosure machine” that profited from the collapse of the housing market. On Tuesday, The Intercept reported on a newly obtained memo that reveals [Mnuchin’s former bank] may have engaged in widespread misconduct while foreclosing on homeowners. The memo argued OneWest was guilty of a host of infractions, including backdating mortgage documents to speed up foreclosures and manipulating the results of home auctions, and it urged a top—California’s attorney general then to sue.

AMY GOODMAN: Mnuchin’s hedge fund bought out the failing California bank IndyMac in 2008, renaming it OneWest. Under his ownership, it foreclosed on 36,000 families, particularly elderly residents trapped in reverse mortgages.

For more, we go to Los Angeles to speak with reporter David Dayen, who broke this story for The Intercept. He’s also the author of the book Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.

David, welcome back to Democracy Now! Lay out what you found. Explain what this previously undisclosed memo shows.

DAVID DAYEN: Yeah, so this is a memo from deputies in the California Attorney General’s Office, and it describes a year-long investigation that they conducted into OneWest, finding well over a thousand violations of California’s foreclosure process. California is a nonjudicial state. The courts are not involved in foreclosures. But there are very precise steps that lenders are supposed to take when they foreclose on a homeowner. And OneWest was found to have violated these. It was a somewhat limited investigation, because OneWest is a national bank, and states don’t have the jurisdiction to do widespread investigation of them. But they found over a thousand violations just in this limited investigation. And if they did file a civil enforcement action, there would be a discovery period, where they extrapolated, the deputies, that they could find thousands more violations. So they requested authorization to file this action, and the California Attorney General’s Office did not move on that.

AMY GOODMAN: And the California attorney general, of course, was now the current California senator, right, Kamala Harris?

DAVID DAYEN: That’s right. And she’ll have the opportunity to vote on Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest—or, on his treasury secretary nomination. Mnuchin actually was a donor to Kamala Harris as recently as February 2016. He gave $2,000 to Kamala Harris’s Senate election campaign. And there’s no real explanation that was given to these deputies as to why Harris decided not to move forward with the case. There’s a lot of speculation. But now we’re seeing sort of the blowback from failing to prosecute these banks and these top executives: Now one is potentially going to be the treasury secretary.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this issue of backdating documents, because, obviously, the mortgage fraud crisis was—there was the original problem of all of the high-interest loans and no-doc loans that were issued, but then, after the collapse, the financial collapse, there were all the banks and financial institutions that came in to so-called clean up the mess and then engaged in massive fraud in terms of documentation of who owned what loan and who had paid back what. Talk about the importance of OneWest in this second stage of the crisis.

DAVID DAYEN: Yes, OneWest was definitely part of that cleanup crew. They were built out of the ashes of IndyMac, which was a failed lender that originated really bad toxic mortgages. And OneWest was brought in, and they engaged in a number of practices to do foreclosures. The backdating scandal here was, they would file notices of default—and that sort of kicks off the foreclosure process here in California—without actually designating what is known as a trustee, that would engage in the foreclosure sale. And so, when they would do that document to designate the trustee, to make it look like the notice of default was done correctly, they would backdate the document. And the way that the deputies at the AG’s Office figured this out is that some of the documents were backdated so far back, it was before OneWest became a bank. OneWest was inaugurated as a bank in March of 2009, and some of the documents had dates before that, that they were executing these what are known as substitutions of trustee before OneWest even became into being.

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