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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • Omnibus: No Financial Reg Relief, Dangerous GSE Provision, But a Little CFPB Sunshine

    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...

  • Omnibus with Significant Reg Relief May Be Worth Supporting

    December 15, 2015

    As the year-end omnibus spending bill is about to be unveiled, there will be a scramble to examine its provisions. In many policy areas, my colleagues and I have urged Congress to use its “power of the purse” to insist on significant regulatory relief as a price for the new spending in the omnibus.



    have written that Congress should freeze funding for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “fiduciary rule,” referred to by many as “Obamacare for your IRA,” which would greatly limit investment choices in IRAs and 401(k)s and even restrict what financial broadcasters like Dave Ramsey could say to listeners.



    Defunding of this rule was also urged by a ...

  • Will DOL's "Fiduciary Rule" Silence Dave Ramsey?

    November 30, 2015

    It is indeed sad that 40 percent of millennials favor the government banning speech that some deem offensive, according to a recent Pew poll. Even more distressing is that college students have plenty of company with members of other age groups and professions who want to shut down speech they disagree with.



    Take speech about personal finance. This is an area where there would certainly seem to be room for a diversity of opinion, given the complexity of the topic and differences in individual financial goals and circumstances. That’s why there is no shortage of books and radio and television shows with differing viewpoints about financial planning. If you don’t subscribe to what Suze Orman or others have to say, you can always read or tune in ...

  • CFPB's Database Should Be Bipartisan Privacy Concern

    November 12, 2015

    ​The behemoth Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) played a big role in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate on Fox Business, both during the commercials and in the candidate’s answers.



    A new ad by American Action Network that made its debut during commercial break correctly linked the CFPB—created by the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform act rammed through Congress in 2010—to denial of mortgages and car loans due to the CFPB’s costly and paternalistic rules that hit Main Street bank and credit unions. The candidates critical of Dodd-Frank dinged those same policies, but often without naming the CFPB.



    Carly Fiorina called out the CFPB directly and for another disturbing policy. She pointed out that...

  • Freddie Mac's Loss Shows Need to Protect Taxpayers from GSE Raids

    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...

  • Equity Crowdfunding at Last, But Still Incomplete

    October 30, 2015

    More than three years after the JOBS Act was signed into law by President Obama, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today will finally vote to approve equity crowdfunding rules. The final rule implementing Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act of 2012, though late in coming, represent a first step for policymakers in getting public policy in step with America’s crowdfunding heritage.



    When a small firm grows by giving a community of funders a share in the profits—rather than just token items such as t-shirts—that’s known as equity crowdfunding. And it’s an idea whose time has come, because it is an idea that has always been here. Henry Ford, as I have written in a paper for CEI, crowdfunded among his friends and neighbors 100...

  • CEI at Money20/20

    October 27, 2015

    I’m here on the Las Vegas Strip at Money20/20, a trade show and forum in the area of FinTech—a term used to describe a cross-section of alternative lending, cryptocurrencies, and new payment technology—that is a pretty big shindig. At around 10,000 attendees, Money20/20 is fast becoming the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of FinTech. Or as the show’s boosters might say, CEA is becoming the Money20/20 of tech.



    Anyways, some big news breaking here, such as JPMorgan Chase’s announcement of a mobile payments system to rival Apple Pay, and MasterCard’s “internet of things” initiative to enable mobile payments through keys,...

  • 33 Groups Call on Congress to Defund Portfolio Attack by Labor Department

    October 22, 2015

    Today, a coalition letter signed by leaders of 33 leaders of free-market and conservative public policy organizations urges Congress to defund the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “fiduciary rule” takeover of 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The letter, coordinated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, states that Congress “must exercise its power of the purse” to stop this “action by the administration that has attracted bipartisan opposition owing to the massive negative effects it would have on Americans’ retirement savings.”



    Stretching to the bone its narrow authority over pensions from the 40-year-old Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the DOL has proposed a rule that would cause great harm to middle-class savers. This rule...

  • Warren Bullies Not Just Litan But Consumers

    October 5, 2015

    Elizabeth Warren “drew blood,” writes Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger. “Elizabeth Warren Claims Another Scalp,” reads the headline of an excellent piece by John Fund at National Review Online.



    The “blood” and “scalp” are those of Robert Litan, distinguished center-left economist and former high-level official of the Clinton administration Justice Department and Office of Management and Budget, who until recently was non-resident senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution. Litan, a friend of mine with whom I have engaged in conversations and civil disagreements, committed the “sin” in...

  • CEI's Coalition Letter to Prevent New Bailouts of Fannie and Freddie

    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...

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