As the fight for financial reform heats up, a diverse coalition of organizations are raising their voices in support of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). It’s a reminder that predatory lending and abusive financial practices hurt Americans from all walks of life—and that the stakes are too high to let industry lobbyists convince our lawmakers otherwise.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke started the new year with a reflective address to the American Economic Association on the causes of the financial crisis and steps to prevent a future crisis. Chairman Bernanke strongly stressed the need for “better, smarter” regulation and concedes that the Fed’s attempts at regulating the mortgage lending market were too little, too late. “Stronger regulation and supervision aimed at problems with underwriting practices and lenders' risk management would have been a more effective and surgical approach to constraining the housing bubble than a general increase in interest rates,” Bernanke said.
Last week, the Monsignor John Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform and Woodstock Institute called for much-needed consumer protections for the currently unregulated payday installment loan industry at a press conference in downtown Chicago. These new consumer protections, included in a recent proposal by Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), would ensure reasonable fees in an industry that has operated for years outside the consumer protections established in the 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act.
The Department of the Treasury released its fifth report card on how mortgage lenders are doing modifying loans for eligible homeowners under the government’s Making Home Affordable program (see the first, second, third, and fourth report cards).
The Federal Reserve Board has named Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute, to its Consumer Advisory Council for a three-year term starting in December 2010. The Council advises the Board on the exercise of its responsibilities under the Consumer Credit Protection Act and on other matters in the area of consumer financial services. The Council meets three times a year in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. House of Representatives made a historic vote in favor of consumers by passing H.R. 4173, the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009,” on December 11. This bill would create an agency with authority to set strong protections for financial products, such as mortgages, payday loans, and credit cards.
A conference entitled “Mortgage Foreclosure Policy: Past, Present, and Future” brought together leading practitioners and scholars of the foreclosure crisis at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to highlight national and local efforts to combat foreclosures, engage in critical discussion of the causes of and solutions to the crisis, and develop plans to avoid future foreclosure crises.
This fall, President Obama announced an important change to tax returns that will make saving easier, particularly for new savers. As of this upcoming tax season, filers who receive a refund will be able to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds with part of their refund money simply by checking a box on their return.
Crucial financial reform legislation is hitting the floor of the House of Representatives this week, including a bill to enact the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
The Savings for American Families' Future Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 1961) would expand access to retirement savings for low- and moderate-wealth Americans.
The Department of the Treasury released its fourth report card on how mortgage lenders are doing modifying loans for eligible homeowners under the government’s Making Home Affordable program (see the first, second and third report cards). Eighteen lenders started modifications for less than 20% of their eligible loans, below the national average. Only ten lenders modified more than 20% of their eligible loans. Last month, seventeen lenders modified fewer loans than the national average, while nine lenders modified more loans than the national average.
Groups advocating on behalf of Illinois residents threatened by foreclosures recently won two important victories: the approval of a $3 million Cook County budget allocation for foreclosure mediation and the passage of a bill in the Illinois General Assembly empowering municipalities to better address the problem of vacant and foreclosed properties in their communities.
The Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, a network of organizations working collaboratively to develop coordinated and robust solutions to the foreclosure crisis, is happy to announce the launch of the Regional HOPI website, www.regionalhopi.org.
The battle for financial services reform is being fought on national and local fronts on issues such as creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency and ensuring effective local responses to the foreclosure crisis. During its annual Fall Forum, the Illinois Community Investment Coalition brought together some of those on the front lines to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far and outline what’s left to be done.
The regulatory reform proposal released today by Chairman Dodd (D-CT) goes a long way to ensuring that consumers and communities across the country have access to safe, affordable, and sustainable financial products. We believe that the proposal brings us closer to ending the assumption that some financial institutions are too big to fail, protecting the financial system against systemic risk, creating a single federal banking regulator, and enforcing the consumer protections that have gone unenforced for far too long.