August 22, 2014
“Bank of America failed to make accurate and complete disclosure to investors and its illegal conduct kept investors in the dark,” declared a government official in a Department of Justice press release announcing yesterday’s record settlement in which Bank of America agreed to fork over $16.65 billion to settle charges it and companies it had purchased had deceived investors.
Back in Washington from Ferguson, Mo., Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a press conference: “As part of this settlement, Bank of America has acknowledged that, in the years leading up to the financial crisis that devastated our economy in 2008, it, Merrill Lynch, and Countrywide sold billions of dollars of RMBS [residential mortgage-backed...
July 25, 2014
Should we worry about a crisis in subprime auto loans? That question has been asked in the financial media lately.
My answer is yes, with caveats. While there are important differences in the auto and mortgage markets, there are similar government interventions that have the potential to fuel a bubble in car loans the same way they did for home loans.
First, the differences. So far, thankfully, there is no auto equivalent of a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or other government-sponsored enterprise to inflate the car loan market. Sure, there have been lots of bailouts in the auto industry in general, but the secondary market in car loans has developed largely on its own.
And without a government backstop, it is much smaller than the mortgage market ever was. An otherwise alarmist front-page ...
July 7, 2014
“If you like your life, home, and auto insurance, you can keep them.”
President Obama didn’t make this promise when he signed into law the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul on July 21, 2010, as he did regarding the health insurance law – Obamacare – that he signed into law a few months earlier that year. But as syndicated columnist Jay Ambrose points out, “if the Dodd-Frank regulatory law does what is now plotted, though he will still share responsibility for the insurance provision that, along with others, could bloody lots of noses.”
As Dodd-Frank approaches its fourth anniversary, Obama is singing its praises. He told National Public...
June 30, 2014
The groundbreaking decision today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Obamacare’s contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of two closely held corporations, will be dissected heavily for days, and studied for weeks, years and decades. My colleague Hans Bader has more here.
For consistent civil libertarians, one of the most remarkable—and favorable—aspects of the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito is a no-hold-barred defense of corporations asserting rights of “persons.” Though this case dealt with statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and did not directly involve constitutional liberties, Alito...
June 16, 2014
Defying conventional wisdom as he often does, Pulitzer prize-winning pundit George F. Will disputed the notion that in the wake of the shocking primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), even less in Congress will get done.
“I’ll tell you something that may get done now because of this and that is deauthorizing – refusing to reauthorize -- the Export-Import Bank.” Will said on “Fox News Sunday” (hat tip to National Review for providing the clip.)
Will went on to state his view that “the Export-Import bank played as large a role in that election as immigration did.” Michael Barone also ...
June 4, 2014Competitive Enterprise Institute President Lawson Bader has said, "What CEI does, on a daily basis and at its core, is to celebrate and defend free enterprise," and "free enterprise is just another phrase for what I call the ‘freedom to prosper.'"
Lawson makes it clear that "prosperity" does not necessarily mean accumulation of possessions, but enrichment of one’s own life and those of others through individual choice. Free enterprise means freedom to pursue various options, and "we who defend economic liberty view these endeavors with a non-judgmental eye, recognizing them as the choices free individuals make to realize their dreams,'" he writes.
These thoughts on the freedom to prosper have been on my mind since last week after the passing of two individuals -- one of whom I was privileged to know -- who used what limited freedom...
May 27, 2014Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Big Retail lobby created a dubious driving distraction.
The Merchants Payments Coalition, whose members include retail giants like Walmart and 7-Eleven, took out a Business Wire press release warning motorists to "Get Ready to Be Side-Swiped by Your Bank’s Exorbitant Credit-Card Fees." In reality, it's rent-seeking retailers and allied politicians who are rear-ending American consumers on Memorial Day and every day through the price controls they pushed for in Dodd-Frank's Durbin Amendment. Now, they are lobbying Washington to ram ordinary folks even more with policies that will make security breaches like that of...
May 15, 2014Today, after delays and much opposition from many quarters on different grounds, the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul is set to be voted on by the Senate Banking Committee. If it clears, the vote will likely be narrow.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute coordinated a letter opposing the legislation signed by 26 leaders of conservative and free-market groups. Here are four key reasons to why Johnson-Crapo, named for Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and and...
April 29, 2014Today, in a surprise move, the Senate Banking Committee postponed the vote it had been set to mark up for Johnson-Crapo. Reports vary as to whether this bill is "dead on arrival" or coming up soon with amendments (mostly to bring around liberal Democrats).
One thing is clear, though. The bill is losing momentum, and the proverbial Congressional clock is ticking.
Today's delay is great news for ordinary American taxpayers and shareholders who would have been ripped off by Johnson-Crapo and its creation of the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corportation, or Feddie Mic. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has for decades warned about the risk to taxpayers and the economy posed by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2000, CEI founder and then-...
April 14, 2014Today’s ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that Dodd-Frank’s "conflict minerals" disclosure mandate violates the First Amendment is the first time ever a court has ruled that a provision of Dodd-Frank violates the Constitution. Regulations issued under Dodd-Frank have been struck down for reasons such as inadequate cost-benefit analysis and other procedural violations, but this is first time a provision has been found to be unconstitutional.
And it couldn't happen to a more misguided and destructive provision of the law! As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Hans Bader and I have written in blog posts, articles, and regulatory comments, the...