The U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs (CHOICE) Act on September 13, a kitchen sink piece of legislation that would roll back many of the advances made since passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The bill takes a broad swipe at financial regulation and would decrease the power and independence of many oversight bodies. Among the bill’s targets are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Dodd-Frank’s signature Volcker Rule restricting dangerous speculative investments on the part of banks, and the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule for retirement investment advice. This kind of legislation, regardless of whether it stands a chance of ever becoming law, represents a serious threat to regulators’ ability to protect consumers.
Donald Trump has called for a moratorium on regulations. Considered in a vacuum, this may sound like a good – or perhaps a harmless – idea. Regulations can be confusing and burdensome. Considered in the context of the complicated world of consumer finance, this idea is dangerous. Consumers – whether knowingly or not – depend on financial regulations to protect them in interactions with financial service providers, such as retirement investment advisors (more on that in a minute). Buying a home, applying for a credit card, opening a bank account, these are just a few examples of instances in which consumers must enter the oftentimes confusing realm of consumer finance. Absent good laws and regulations, consumers are at the mercy of their financial provider. If consumers have the bad fortune to rely on unscrupulous providers, that experience may lead to financial ruin.
Accion’s mission is to revitalize communities from within through entrepreneurship. During my time with the organization, I’ve learned that the value we provide small business owners involves more than simply disbursing a loan. We provide one-on-one coaching to every applicant, whether they receive a loan or not. We work with each small business owner to increase their financial literacy, credit experience, and confidence as an entrepreneur.
Doug Heller is a consumer advocate and insurance expert who works with the Consumer Federation of America. On Twitter @DougHeller.
April 6 was an historic day for consumers. On that day, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the so-called Fiduciary Rule. The Fiduciary Rule, which has been years in the making and has been vigorously opposed by industry, will require retirement investment advisors to act in the best interests of the consumers they are advising.
This week was the most active week in Springfield so far this year. Friday, April 8 is the deadline for bills to pass out of committee. For Woodstock and our legislative priorities, the week was mostly successful.
Leading up to and since the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) conference in March, Woodstock Institute has been part of the surge in work on, and interest in, small business lending and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) issues at local and national levels.
The City of Chicago requires the owners of vacant properties to register them with the city, and to secure and maintain them. The city amended its vacant building registration ordinance in November 2011 to require mortgagees to register vacant properties in an effort to address the growing problems created by vacant buildings stuck in the lengthy foreclosure process.
The number of home purchase mortgage applications decreased in 2014 compared to 2013, but origination rates were up across the board in the Chicago six county region.
Woodstock Institute is pleased to be holding our 2016 Community Investment Award reception May 12th at the wonderful Stony Island Arts Bank, a beautifully refurbished bank building serving now as a community arts and culture space. Located at 68th and Stony Island, the Stony Island Arts Bank rehab project was conceived and executed by Chicago public artist Theaster Gates and completed ahead of the building’s opening in October 2015.
Illinois’s legislative session is in full swing, and Woodstock is monitoring many bills that fall within the scope of our mission: to create a just financial system in which lower-wealth persons and communities as well as people and communities of color can achieve economic security and prosperity. Here are some of the bills that we are supporting this session.
In a letter to the editor published by The Chicago Tribune, I respond to Steve Chapman’s February 10 article on Bernie Sanders and Wall Street finance. Chapman writes about the trust he has in the financial firm handling his 401(k) and that he has “to the best of [his] knowledge” never been defrauded. Chapman proceeds to invoke his broader trust in Wall Street actors, attempting to delegitimize and downplay the Sanders campaign’s criticism of the financial sector.
The pay-walled tribune article can be found here, and my letter is reproduced below.
Hi, everyone. I’m very excited to be working as Woodstock Institute’s new Communications and Development Associate. Woodstock has a lot of exciting projects for the coming year, and I look forward to a unique and interesting experience adapting Woodstock’s communications and development strategies to frame and highlight developments on the policy and research side.