Category Archives: Banking industry

How Mandatory Arbitration Cheats Consumers

A few weeks ago, the topic of arbitration clauses became a contretemps when General Mills tried the remarkably cheeky stunt of trying to assert that consumers who had downloaded coupons or simply liked the company on Facebook had given up their right to sue if they were harmed by using its products and could seek remedy only through “informal negotiation via email” or arbitration. The firestorm of criticism forced the food giant to back down.

But consumers and other customers, like small businesses, are increasingly being denied access to courts though the use of mandated “pre-dispute” arbitration clauses and these are often paired with class action waivers.

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France Has Hissy Fit Over BNP Paribas Fine and Dollar Dominance

France appears to have taken its public relations strategy for dealing with $8.9 billion fine against BNP Paribas from an old saying among lawyers: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.” Here’s the guts of the French compliant, which is that the US is abusing the power of dollar dominance:

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Bill Black on Real News: BNP Paribas Fine Shows Financial Crime Still Pays

This Real News Network interview with Bill Black provides a good high-level overview of what is right and (mainly) wrong with the $8.9 billion settlement with BNP Paribas over money-laundering charges. Black stresses that financial crime remains a very attractive activity for both the enterprise and its employees. As usual, no executives were charged or even fined, although thanks to the intervention of New York financial services superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, eleven employees of the French bank lost their jobs.

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Reform and Be Re-Elected

Yves here. I suspect many will take issue with the cheery view expressed in this article. The authors contend that reformist candidates in the post-crisis era do better at polls than status quo types. That makes sense, but the authors appear to define “reform” in terms in more modest terms than most readers would deem to be sufficient. But this finding sounds correct, intuitively. Look at Elizabeth Warren. Even though she has made great use of her Senate bully pulpit, and has kept a focus on bank re-regulation, her policy proposals, such as her student loan fixes, have been cautious. A frame-breaking reformer, such as a Huey Long, would require a far more divided electorate with geographic concentrations of radicalized voters to be viable.

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Randy Wray: “Debt-Free Money” – A Non Sequitur in Search of a Policy

Yves here. I must confess that I am at a loss to understand the deep emotional reactions some readers have to MMT. It’s like raging at a thermometer because it shows you your body temperature. Virtually all of the complaints about MMT are based on a failure to understand what it says about how money works. MMT is descriptive of our current system, and it also has a message that progressives (the real kind, not the Democratic fauxgressive kind) ought to welcome, that the Federal government as a sovereign does not need to run a balance budget, and that a balanced budget is in fact destructive when the economy is as slack as it is now. That means the government not only can but should spend more, which is in contrast to all those barmy arguments about how we can’t spend to [fill in your priorities, have national health care, improve our infrastructure, feed low income kids in school, etc.]. If you don’t like the Federal government directing that much spending, there’s a remedy for that too: revenue sharing, which was instituted under that great liberal Richard Nixon, who though the Federal government raised revenues more efficiently than state and local governments, but state and local government were better at setting spending priorities.

MMT provides a basis for rejecting neoliberalism and austerity, and people who ought to embrace it are instead being told falsehoods about it and are becoming skeptical. That assures that the current crop of looters can continue their work unperturbed.

However, MMT does require that you turn the conventional stories about money inside-out. It takes some mental rewiring to understand it, and that degree of reorientation seems to be a big reason for the heated reactions.

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Wolf Richter: How Private Equity Firms Manipulate the Buy-to-Rent Housing Racket

Private equity firms are the ultimate smart money on Wall Street; they know how to wring out the last dime from their own clients, such as pension funds and rich individuals, through hidden fees, obscure expenses, elaborate expense shifting, lackadaisical disclosure, and “zombie advisers,” to the point where SEC Inspection Chief Andrew Bowden singled them out in a speech in May. Now the lawyers are circling.

And these private equity firms invented a whole new business: buying vacant homes out of foreclosure and from banks and renting them out. But how do they exit at a profit?

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BIS Warns About Destabilizing Low Interest Rates

The financial media is all atwitter (no pun intended) over the Bank of International Settlement’s just released annual report, since it shook a stern finger at central banks for keeping super low interest rates and warned them about the difficulty of renormalizing without kicking up a lot of upheaval.

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Randy Wray: The Rise of Monetary Cranks and Fixing What Ain’t Broke

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, we all wax “desperate with imagination”, looking for explanation. For solution. For retribution!

The financial system is rotten. Our banking regulators and supervisors failed us in the run-up to the crisis, they failed us in the response to the crisis, and they are failing us in the reform that we expected in the aftermath of the crisis.

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Randy Wray: Modern Monetary Theory – The Basics

How economists that are otherwise sympathetic to modern monetary theory nevertheless misconstrue some of its fundamental observations. For instance, those like Paul Krugman who are generally of the Keynesian persuasion like MMT’s “deficit owl” approach. Krugman acts as if he would really like to stop worrying about the deficit so that he could advocate an “as much as it takes” approach to government spending. The problem is that he just cannot quite get a handle on the monetary operations that are required. Won’t government run out? What, is government going to create money “out of thin air”? Where will all the money come from?

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Why Banks Must Be Allowed to Create Money

Ann Pettifor has penned an effective rebuttal of the Chicago Plan, which has been taken up in the UK as “Positive Money”. Its advocates call for private banks to have their ability to create money taken from them, and put in the hands of a committee, independent of the state, that would decide on the level of money creation. Banks would be restricted to lending money that they already have on deposit.

Pettifor explains how the enthusiasm for the Chicago Plan rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of money and confusion about its relationship to credit. While readers may not like the notion that credit, and therefore money creation, is best left in the hands of banks, the problem is much like the one that Churchill articulated about democracy: it looks like the worst possible system until you consider the alternatives.

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Corporate Bond Trading a Casualty of QE and ZIRP

The Financial Times has an article on how corporate bond dealers are going to create a new trading hub to try to preserve their market position while “boosting liquidity” in the market. Narrowly speaking, there’s nothing wrong with the piece as a description of investor unhappiness and planned bank responses. But it curiously missed how Fed policy has helped generate conditions that are reducing corporate bond market liquidity.

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Bill Black: Obama’s Latest Betrayal in Favor of the Big Banks: TISA

Yves here. I’ve taken the liberty of editing down Bill Black’s post slightly to bring readers more quickly to his correctly outraged discussion of the latest Wikileaks expose on a trade deal that has managed to go completely under the radar: the Trade in Services Agreement, otherwise known as TISA. We wrote about this troubling news when the story broke. Astonishingly, the mainstream media has taken no notice of this release. Black’s discussion is accessible to lay readers, and I hope you’ll circulate it in the interest of raising awareness of how the Administration intends to sell out the US to banks, Big Pharma, and other multinationals.

Black explains how TISA is designed to replicate, indeed, optimize the criminogenic environment that made fraudulent financial CEOs wealthy by “looting” “their” banks.

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Wells Smacked Down Over Bad Faith Arguments in Foreclosure Case

Even though foreclosures and bank servicing abuses have virtually disappeared in the eyes of the media, it’s quite a different story in the courtrooms of America. Banks continue to proceed with foreclosures, too many of which are based on bogus charges or other servicing abuses.

Fortunately, more and more judges seem to be recognizing bank bad conduct. Wells Fargo proceeded with a foreclosure on a clear bad-faith basis, and then made some eye-rolling arguments before a judge who is on to Wells’ game and is none too impressed.

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