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  • Consumers Be Damned: Senator Shelby, Captain Queeg and the Politics of NoGovernment, Politics, Blog, Personal Finance

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    Last week’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau featured prepared speeches that were utterly without sound and fury but still managed to do a huge disservice to American consumers. It felt like a really bad Capitol Hill reality show, devoid of all emotion, featuring actors who made Snooki and the Situation seem like “clean” coal shills at a global warming conference. Confirmation hearings are […]

  • Freddie and Fannie — Has Everyone Gone Postal?Government, Mortgages, Politics, Blog, Money

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    Between Freddie and Fannie’s latest woes and the United States Postal Service teetering on collapse, it’s been a bad week or so for quasi-governmental agencies. Late last week the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it was facing a shortfall of approximately $5.5 billion in terms of its obligations in the month of September, and that without Congressional action it might have to cease operations entirely during the winter of 2011. In a week […]

  • $2 a Gallon Gas, Michele Bachmann? Aim Higher.Government, Blog

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    Big city-dwellers notwithstanding, American consumers may purchase gasoline more frequently than any other item. In fact, according to a 2009 Nilson report, when it comes to credit card purchases, gas is the most frequent purchase. Food, groceries and retail items are also on the list, but when you think about it, it makes sense — most Americans pump their own gas on a very regular basis. For many people the price of gas relates directly […]

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    Zero Sum Game: The Black Box of the Congressional Budget ProcessGovernment, Blog

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    So, how do you do your household budgeting? Millions of us use QuickBooks or some variation thereof. For those who are technologically challenged (I was for years), yellow pads, composition books, copy paper, accounting journals, even index cards, are the medium of choice. However different their materials may be, most consumers who keep a household budget without the aid of an accountant or bookkeeper use pretty much the same method. As a rule, even accountants and […]

  • The Elephants in the Room: The GOP’s War on Consumer ProtectionGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog

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    Saturday, June 25th, represents a seminal day for Bank of America credit card holders. It is Penalty Rate Increase Day. From that day forward, the penalty rate for card holders who pay their bill as little as one day late could rise to 29.99% on all future purchases. This is in addition to a late fee of up to $25 for the first time and $35 if there is a second slip within six months. […]

  • In Defense of Consumer ProtectionGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog

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    The Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to prevent President Obama from appointing Elizabeth Warren, Raj Date (or frankly anyone other than the ghost of Adam Smith or Old Man Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life”) to be the Director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless and until Democratic leaders agree to essentially defang the agency and permit Congressional oversight and authorization of its budget. He has convinced […]

  • Daddy, Make the Bad Man Go AwayGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog, Personal Finance, Privacy

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    So, it’s 10:15 PM and your eight-year-old just woke up with a nightmare. While you’re tending to him, the phone rings and of course your 13-year-old daughter gets to it first. A minute or two later she bursts into her brother’s room crying, and blurts out to the two of you that the nasty man on the phone just told her that mommy and daddy would go to jail if they didn’t pay their old […]

  • Debt

    Play It Again, SAMGovernment, Mortgages, Blog

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    This country is in the midst of a housing crisis — a devastating housing crisis reminiscent of the 1930s — and no one, not the government, not private industry, seems to be able to fix it. Well, there is a strategy out there that has quietly been proposed that could stop the bleeding, and incredibly no one seems to be talking about it. First, let’s set the stage. Right now, there are reportedly 4.8 million […]

  • 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 […]

  • The CFPB and Congress’ Need for an Adult ConversationGovernment, Politics, Consumer Protection, Blog

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    The Republicans, now in control of our House of Representatives, love to talk about having adult conversations about things, and so I can’t for the life of me figure out why, when it comes to consumer protection, certain members of the GOP insist on speaking to us all like we’re either too young or stupid to understand just how badly the American people have been hammered—both by the financial services industry and our elected and […]

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