20 07, 2023

FedFin on: Senate Banking Kicks Deposit-Insurance Reform Down the Road

2023-07-21T17:03:13-04:00July 20th, 2023|The Vault|

In the wake of today’s Senate Banking deposit-insurance reform hearing, it seems certain that there will be no legislation in the near term and most likely in this Congress to increase FDIC-insurance thresholds.  Although the FDIC recommended a new approach to transaction accounts in its policy review following recent bank failures (see Client Report DEPOSITINSURANCE119), Senators on both sides of the aisle demurred.  Chairman Brown (D-OH) made it clear that any change in FDIC-coverage limits is conditioned on final, tougher bank regulations, essentially telling banks that successfully opposing new rules means keeping FDIC coverage as is….

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

3 07, 2023

Karen Petrou: The Unintended Consequence Of Capital Hikes Isn’t Less Credit, It’s More Risk

2023-07-03T12:08:54-04:00July 3rd, 2023|The Vault|

As was evident throughout Chairman Powell’s most recent appearances before HFSC and Senate Banking, conflict between capital and credit availability characterizes what is to come of the “end-game” capital rules set for imminent release.  The trade-off is said to be between safer banks and a sound economy, but this is far too simple.  As we’ve seen over and over again as capital rules rise, credit availability stays the same or even increases.  What changes is who makes the loans and what happens to borrowers and the broader macro framework, which in the past has been irrevocably altered.  The real trade-off is thus between lending from banks and the stable financial intermediation this generally ensures and lending from nonbanks and the risks this raises not just to financial stability, but also to economic equality.

As post-2008 history makes clear, banks do not stop lending when capital requirements go up; they stop taking certain balance-sheet risks based on how the sum total of often-conflicting risk-based, leverage, and stress-test rules drives their numbers.  That all these rules push and pull banks in often-different directions is at long last known to the Fed based on Vice Chair Barr’s call for a “holistic review”.  Whether it plans to do anything about them and their adverse impact on the future of regulated financial intermediation remains to be seen.  Until something is done, banks will look across the spectrum of capital rules, spot the highest requirement, and then figure out how best to remain profitable …

21 11, 2022

FedFin on: Treasury Plumbs the Depth of Nonbank Finance, Seeks New Merger Policy, Rules

2022-11-22T13:19:47-05:00November 21st, 2022|The Vault|

As promised, this report provides an in-depth analysis of Treasury’s report and resulting recommendations to the President’s Competition Council on the impact of new nonbank consumer-finance entrants from a competition, consumer-protection, and financial-stability perspective.  Although the report calls for reconsideration of bank-merger policy with an eye to the growing role of fintechs and bigtechs, its overall view of market power fails in our view to capture the actual landscape in which…

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

18 08, 2022

FedFin on: Payment System Access

2023-01-04T11:31:21-05:00August 18th, 2022|The Vault|

Following considerable controversy surrounding how Federal Reserve Banks grant master accounts, it has finalized a somewhat more explicit set of guidelines along lines proposed the second time the Fed attempted to set guidelines via a “supplemental” proposal earlier this year amending its 2021 effort.3 Doubtless expecting the controversy which followed these final guidelines, the Fed was at pains in both the preamble and release to emphasize that the new standards are “transparent and equitable.” However, as noted below, some changes to the supplemental in fact increase…

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

17 08, 2022

FedFin on: Data-Safeguard Legal/Reputational Risk

2023-01-04T11:55:58-05:00August 17th, 2022|The Vault|

Using another of its tools to set policy without prior public comment, the CFPB has released a circular stating that inadequate consumer-data safeguards may constitute a breach of the unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) protection standards subject to Bureau enforcement action.   This is the case even if no consumers have been harmed, if only one consumer is adversely affected, …

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

15 08, 2022

Karen Petrou: The Sobering Lesson of Subprime Mortgages for Digital-Asset Regulation

2023-01-04T12:13:43-05:00August 15th, 2022|The Vault|

Last week, the American Banker had a synopsis of views filed on Treasury’s request for comments on digital-finance regulation.  Its quote from the ABA’s comment letter is striking, indicating that this letter pointed to the increasingly-absurd reality of no rules for nonbanks and no digital assets for banks given all their rules.  Progressive advocates pushed back, arguing that it’s right to keep banks quashed because of all the systemic hazards they pose.  To my thinking, both sides are right, with recent history not just showing why, but also how urgent it is for regulators finally to act on both overarching crypto rules and those governing bank exposures in this volatile sector.

The recent history I have in mind is the chilling precedent of subprime mortgages starting in around 2003.  I well remember a meeting at the OCC in which my late husband detailed both the borrower and market risks of new mortgage products such as those with “silent seconds” extended to borrowers with no demonstrable ability to repay even a first line from resources other than the ever-appreciating house prices investors somehow believed were a force of nature that always blew balmy winds their way.

The OCC official with whom we spoke was even more worried than we about emerging market trends, but she was over-ruled from on high.  This was first because national banks weren’t sounding the alarm, second because no other banking agency seemed worried, and finally because anything that adversely affected national banks might have undermined …

1 06, 2022

FedFin: How Adverse Is This?

2023-02-21T12:50:01-05:00June 1st, 2022|The Vault|

As detailed in our new in-depth report, the CFPB has issued another sweeping rule by way of a seemingly innocuous circular not subject to public notice and comment.  Under it, lenders that use third-party underwriting are responsible for ensuring that borrowers receive thorough adverse action notices even if the lender has no authority over the AI or other complex models determining credit outcome.

The full report is available to subscription clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here.


27 04, 2022

FedFin on: Nonbank Consumer-Finance Supervision

2023-03-01T15:07:08-05:00April 27th, 2022|The Vault|

Using what it describes as “dormant” authority, the CFPB is seeking comment on a rule setting the procedures under which it expands its authority to nonbank financial companies it believes pose consumer-protection risk.  The procedural rule is just what this term implies – one that establishes procedural standards that may change upon finalization – rather than a request for views on the extent to which the CFPB has the authority it claims.  Indeed, the Bureau clearly intends to use the authority stipulated in this rule for supervisory interventions even as comment on the procedures has yet to be completed…

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

6 12, 2021

Karen Petrou: Why Pro-Competition Consumer Finance May Not be Pro-Consumer Consumer Finance

2023-05-23T13:26:47-04:00December 6th, 2021|The Vault|

Under Rohit Chopra, consumer protection has taken an important, widely-overlooked turn with potent consequences for all retail financial-product providers.  Media coverage of the CFPB’s bigtech order, mortgage-discrimination action, and last week’s anti-overdraft campaign highlighted traditional issues such as fair lending and predatory pricing. These are indeed in the CFPB’s sights, but so also is a much bigger target: the extent to which a few large companies are said to be able to set consumer interest rates and otherwise dictate the shape of U.S. retail finance. This might cut big banks down to the puny size their critics seek, but it’s more likely to accelerate the transformation of retail finance into a wild west of unregulated providers outside the reach of safety-and-soundness standards and, in many cases, even of the CFPB. If this pro-competition campaign is mis-calibrated, the CFPB will put consumers at still greater risk.

Mr. Chopra’s interest in market competition doubtless derives from his stint as a lone, strong voice at the Federal Trade Commission who lost pretty much every battle he waged against giant corporate combos.  It surely stems also from President Biden’s executive order demanding that federal agencies take express pro-competitive action. And, indeed, there’s a lot to do in sectors such as tech-platform companies that already seem to have skipped over just being monopolies to become potent oligopolies with powerful impact over each aspect of everyday life, not to mention pricing and economic inequality.

However, neither traditional nor neo-Brandeisian antitrust theory applies well …

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