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  • Dodd-Frank and CFPB Provide Stimulus to Economy With MilestoneGovernment, Banking, Blog, Money

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    During the endless hearings leading up to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which has its two-year anniversary this week, and an even more taxing series of hearings defending its existence, Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who can rightly be called the birthmother of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said, “America needs a cop on the beat.” Well, this week the CFPB issued its first major ticket and it’s a doozy — […]

  • What The Dark Knight Rises and the CFPB’s First Anniversary Have in CommonGovernment, Banking, Blog

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    A dark army descends on Gotham. Hungry for power, possessed by delusion, its leaders will stop at nothing in their quest to destroy the work of honest men, intimidate those who fight for good, and force free citizens into cowed subservience. I am not talking about “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest installment of the Batman franchise, the premier of which this Friday I (and the entire free world, it seems) am avidly waiting to […]

  • The Downgrades: Forget the 1%. It’s the 9%, Stupid!Government, Banking, Blog, Money

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    Well kids, summer is here again — time for sun, fun and debt downgrades. And in a related downgrade story, according to a recent Harris poll, just nine percent of Americans gave Congress positive job ratings. A low number, indeed, but it still feels wildly optimistic. Last summer, August 5 to be exact, Standard & Poor’s dropped the rating of United States debt below AAA for the first time in history. This year, with our […]

  • NOBAR: Could It End the Credit Gap and Get Banks Lending Again?Government, Banking, Blog, Personal Finance, Money

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    While a whole lot of folks are obsessed with what to do about, or to, the 1%, I would like focus on an issue involving the 90%. This isn’t about the wealth or income gap. It’s about the credit gap. It’s driving the Fed crazy and stifling the economy. Here’s the problem. Right now, banks are lending the bulk of mortgage money to people who have great credit, but are less likely to spend the […]

  • The S&P and the EU: Timing Is EverythingGovernment, Banking, Blog, Money

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    In keeping with a tradition firmly established in the 20th century, Europe suffered a late-night bombing raid on Friday evening. This time the attacker was Standard & Poor’s, everybody’s favorite rating agency, which announced well after the markets closed in New York it was downgrading the debt of no fewer than nine European countries. France was dropped one notch and therefore lost its prized AAA rating, and Italy and Spain both dropped two notches. Portugal’s […]

  • Is Obama’s Cordray Appointment Unprecedented? Not By a LongshotFinancial Literacy, Government, Banking, Politics, Blog, Personal Finance

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    President Obama “manned up” Wednesday, exercised his executive authority and announced the recess appointment of Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—ending months of partisan bickering and obstructionism by 45 Republican Senators and their patrons in the financial services industry. I read the comments of GOP leaders in the House and Senate (which we all expected) and could only shake my head. I felt like I was reading the script of […]

  • Chestnuts, Jack Frost and Wall Street’s Spring BonusesBanking, Blog, Money

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    As we ring out what has been a pretty lousy year for most of us, Wall Streeters are all aglow — thoughts turning to sugar-plum fairies dancing in their brains, bearing bundles of spring bonuses — while stepping around agitated demonstrators who Occupy but a tiny part of their head space. While Wall Street bonuses may be down somewhat this year, the billion-dollar payday for America’s 1% is seen as an insult to most Americans […]

  • Bank of America, Adam Smith and a Fee Market SystemFinancial Literacy, Banking, Blog, Personal Finance

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    This week, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) made a remarkably pithy statement on the floor of the Senate that Bank of America patrons should “vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank.” By now, everyone who reads, watches and listens knows that Bank of America instituted a five dollar per month charge for usage of its debit cards effective early next year, and, of course, that’s what prompted Durbin’s remark. While there will […]

  • Un-Warrented: American Consumers Lose Their Biggest DefenderFinancial Literacy, Banking, Blog, Money

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    At long last, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches officially this week. Unfortunately, so far it seems that what happens on Thursday, July 21st could be more of a lurch than a launch. As has been rumored over the past few weeks, President Obama bypassed the chief architect and advocate of the Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, to be its first director. He nominated Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio, who rose to national prominence […]

  • S&P Downgrades U.S. Debt… Will Repo Men Come for Air Force One?Government, Banking, Blog, Money

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    By now, nearly every American should know that a “credit report” and a “credit score” represent a measure of our personal financial integrity.  Those reports and scores, for individuals, are kept and computed by a select number of large companies (like Equifax, TransUnion, FICO and Experian). Even though most of us have had little if any direct contact with these companies, the fact is that they are keeping files on us and that the reports […]

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