June 10, 2016
On Wednesday, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling announced the main features of his comprehensive plan to replace Dodd-Frank, the flawed response to the financial crisis. Overall, the plan, called the Financial CHOICE Act, contains many features CEI has long advocated, together with some new approaches that look promising. There are one or two concerns from CEI’s free market perspective, but overall the plan provides the comprehensive alternative that provides the basis for debate as the initiative moves forward.
The plan comprises seven sections that would serve as titles for a bill. It is worth looking at each in turn.
Section One deals with capital controls on banks, which have tightened as a result of Dodd-Frank...
December 16, 2015
My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleagues and I have made the case for members of Congress to use the omnibus spending bill as an exercise of its “power of the purse” to hold the Obama administration accountable. Unfortunately, negotiators in Congressional leadership opened that purse way too soon and way too wide to give President Obama nearly everything in terms of the spending he wanted while inexplicably leaving out regulatory relief measures that members of both parties were clamoring for in the thousand-plus page omnibus bill (read it here) to be voted on later this week.
While there were a couple good measures like lifting the oil export ban and repealing the expensive and...
November 4, 2015
I wish baseball great Yogi Berra were still here—upon the release of Freddie Mac’s new quarterly report showing a sudden Q3 loss—so he could offer his famous Yogism “it’s déjà vu all over again.” After seemingly smooth sailing under which Freddie and its sister Fannie Mae turned profits over the last couple years, this net loss of $475 million raises the specter of yet another government bailout.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that many observers—from American Enterprise Institute scholar Peter Wallison to New York Times business...
August 28, 2015
As the Dodd-Frank “financial reform” celebrated its fifth anniversary this summer, just about every financial business—as well as many nonfinancial firms—have come under its thumb. This is true whether or not these companies had anything to do with the financial crisis.
Community banks and credit unions that had nothing to do with the subprime mortgage meltdown suddenly found that they couldn’t issue mortgages to creditworthy borrowers, thanks to provisions such as “qualified mortgage” and “qualified residential mortgage” mandates enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the unaccountable new agency created by Dodd-Frank. Stable insurance companies such as MetLife that never faltered during the crisis and served policy holders for decades suddenly found themselves...
July 9, 2015
May 18, 2015
Last year, an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac called Johnson-Crapo—named after then Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)—went down in flames after observers found that the bill was not reform, but a massive expansion of the government’s role in housing.
One of the most vocal opponents of Johnson-Crapo was Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who voted against the bill in the Senate Banking Committee and blasted it in his statement in committee and it media interviews. “Shelby Opposes Massive New Regulator and Taxpayer Exposure in Housing Regulation Bill,” exclaims the headline of a press release from Shelby’s office on the date of the Senate Committee vote on May 15, 2014.
Though the bill narrowly...
March 19, 2015
This Sunshine Week, the administration that swept into office promising to be the “most transparent” in history was just judged by a major news service as least transparent of modern presidencies.
An analysis by the Associated Pres found that “the Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.” The AP adds that the administration “also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law - but only when it was challenged.”
But FOIA requests are just the tip of the iceberg for this administration’s secrecy, much of which has nothing to do with...
February 3, 2015
Ed Pinto had a depressing and revealing op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Friday about how the Obama administration is artificially creating markets for risky mortgages, using the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the government-controlled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Not only will this put taxpayers at risk, but it will burden prudent homebuyers through “cross-subsidies” for risky borrowers “subsidized by less-risky loans.”
Long ago, Pinto worked as an executive and credit manager at Fannie Mae before it began buying up massive amounts of risky mortgages to pursue short-run profits and meet federal affordable-housing mandates.
As Pinto ...
January 30, 2015
“Wall Street Chips Away at Dodd-Frank,” blared a recent front-page headline in The New York Times about bipartisan measures that have passed the U.S. House of Representatives and/or been signed into law that ever-so-slightly lighten the burden of the so-called financial reform rammed through Congress in 2010. “GOP Pushes More Perks For Wall Street...” reads the home page of The Huffington Post under the picture of establishment pillar, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase.
Yet, what these articles don’t say is that the firms putting their resources on the line to challenge Dodd-Frank in court are the furthest thing from Wall Street high rollers. They are decades-old firms selling stable, time-tested financial products to everyday consumers.
At first glance...
January 8, 2015
“If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” So said Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Reagan was describing the unintended effects of government policy. But for the Obama administration, this formula seems to be the modus operandi of its policy making.
Take mortgages, for instance. After the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul was rammed through the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a bureaucracy created by the Dodd-Frank to be unaccountable almost by design—implemented the law’s “qualified mortgage” (QM) provisions.
The QM provisions were so costly and complex that community banks and credit unions—as far...