Trump and Dodd-Frank – What You Don’t Know

In 2009, I began working for several financial sites –  mostly keeping up with their blogs and some white papers. It wasn’t too long before the 2009 CARD Act was signed into law and within a year after that, so was Dodd-Frank Act.  I had to immerse myself in a crash course as to what these laws meant for consumers. Both were straight out of the Obama Administration.

It wouldn’t take long to realize the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was founded under Dodd-Frank, was a different regulatory agency. Under the guidance of Director Richard Cordray, many Americans saw there were government agencies that really had no ulterior motives. Let me say this: most of those who drive the financial sector machine in this country are reliable, honest and truly work to do good each day. It’s the ones who don’t, the ones who can’t see past the dollar signs, who cause so many problems.

This week, less than a month into his term, President Trump has effectively unraveled every protection Americans had against everythingcapture-20170215-182226 from “too big to fail” banks (JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America), predatory college loans, insane interest rates on mortgages, and much more. By repealing Dodd-Frank, he’s also eliminating all of those financial protections the average American relies on. By the way, it’s important to note, this was the solution to ensure we would never see another mortgage meltdown that we saw in 2008 with the record number of foreclosures for millions of American families.

Here’s what you might not know:

February 5, when asked by a reporter what his intentions were, President Trump said “We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank.”  He said this during a White House meeting with big business leaders and bank presidents, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. That’s a problem.

It’s interesting that the president would say something like this during a meeting with Dimon and his counterparts, mostly because of the headache CFPB has been for many of these CEOs – and most certainly JPMorgan’s leader. Here are just a few of the clashes JPMorgan Chase has had with CFPB.

CFPB Orders Chase and JPMorgan Chase to Pay $309 Million Refund for Illegal Credit Card Practices

SEP 19, 2013

CFPB Takes Action Against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase for Illegal Mortgage Kickbacks

JAN 22, 2015

CFPB, 47 States and D.C. Take Action Against JPMorgan Chase for Selling Bad Credit Card Debt and Robo-Signing Court Documents

JUL 08, 2015

CFPB isn’t reserved just for the banks. It has also focused on predatory lending on everything from payday loans to mortgages to aggressive collection actions:

CFPB Takes Action Against Two Law Firms for Misrepresenting Attorney Involvement to Collect on Medical Debts This one ordered medical debt collection law firms to refund $577,135 to consumers.

JAN 09, 2017

CFPB Takes Action Against NewDay Financial for Deceptive Mortgage Advertising and Kickbacks

FEB 10, 2015

CFPB Takes Action Against ACE Cash Express for Pushing Payday Borrowers Into Cycle of Debt

JUL 10, 2014

This agency has sought to protect consumers on all things financial, including student loans and the aggressive manner in which collection agencies collect debts. Imagine your parents filing for social security and being told they couldn’t until YOUR student loans from thirty years ago were paid back. That’s what this agency does – takes these kinds of disturbing companies down. Well,  maybe not so much now.

The reality is Trump had an opportunity to fix what wasn’t working with Dodd-Frank. In all honestly, the accounting and different regulations are confusing. I’m sure there are analysts who can dissect the law far better than I could begin to understand. I’ll leave that to them. In terms of the every day family with typical challenges and not knowing who to trust in the financial sector, this is a real disappointment – even if no one realizes it right away. Mark my words – you’ll soon see the next time you apply for a college loan or a mortgage and feel like a loan officer is playing fast and loose on your unfamiliarity of contracts or if an unethical debt collector begins seeking you out on social media.


Bloomberg’s Ethical Brouhaha

Michael Bloomberg – what can you say? First, he tried to place a ban on the personal choices of the citizens of New York City by imposing a ridiculous ban on how much Diet Coke they can drink. It came as little surprise, after that failure, that he opted to take on the national gun battle all by himself. I won’t go into arguments that are making the rounds on Facebook and all the national media outlets, the reasons why he should or shouldn’t – mostly because it’s been argued to death. And let’s face it – this man is as stubborn as a mule tied to a fence bloombergpost. He doesn’t get it now and he won’t get it tomorrow – he’s too wrapped up in an ego that continues to propel him into the spotlight. This is a man who doesn’t back down, even if his efforts are falling woefully short.

Bloomberg announced over the weekend that he’s prepared to spend millions to keep the NRA at bay. I’m pretty sure he and Donald Trump share some DNA somewhere down the line because this falls into the category of that embarrassing announcement Trump made just before the elections that promised to change everything – and by “everything”, Trump meant it would keep Obama from becoming a two term president. The only thing it changed was the tolerance factor many of us already felt for him -another exhausting ego that forced itself front and center, if only for a very brief moment. The only thing worse for these two when it comes to American tolerance is the fear that either or both decide to run for president. Not that either would win (Bloomberg shows no loyalty to any party; he’s been a registered Democrat, Republican and is now an Independent), but can you imagine these two doing anything else other than pulling out all of the million dollar stops they have access to? The day they didn’t access those unlimited funds is the same day I dig deep and try to find any shred of respect for Jamie Dimon – which, ironically, is another public image who lacks ethics but makes up for it with his own brand of narcissism.

From a common sense angle, it’s curious that Bloomberg believes it’s money well spent, until you consider a few facts – one being he’s worth more than $17 billion. He also spent millions in his efforts of getting re-elected; in fact, it’s believed he’s spent more of his own cash than any other American politician in history. Bloomberg says his only interest is making sure universal background checks become part of the process any of us must go through before buying a gun. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that, if it were realistic, would already be well on its way of becoming law. Contrary to what the rest of the world believes, America is still home to plenty of folks with common sense. It’s not realistic because he’s wanting these background checks to be based on an imperfect system. The results of those checks, were they ever to become law, are only as good as the system providing the results.

More importantly, Bloomberg has taken on the responsibility of speaking for all, whether they agree with him or not. Making the Sunday morning rounds, he said during an interview on Meet the Press, “We’re trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors (of the Connecticut shooting) want, this is what the public wants,” he said.

And that’s the problem…that one declaration he muttered: “this is what the public wants”. I think a more accurate, across the board statement would be something along the lines of “the public wants accountability and ethical leaders who aren’t dictating their Diet Coke (or Sprite or Dr. Pepper) intake nor putting their own spin on the Constitution”. Not holding my breath on that one either.

I reckon it’s a combination of a lack of ethics and an oversized ego, not that he’d ever slow down long enough to see it.

If I live to be one hundred, I’ll never forget this quote from Hendrik Hertzberg in the November 2009 issue of The New Yorker:

The Mayor has ruled us well, but he has infantilized us…If Bloomberg had been satisfied with two terms, he would be leaving office a beloved legend, a municipal god. He’ll get his third, but we’ll give it to him sullenly, knowing that while it probably won’t measure up to his first two—times are hard, huge budget gaps are at hand—it’ll probably be good enough. The Pax Bloombergiana will endure a while longer. But then what? Will we have forgotten how to govern ourselves?

4 Things That Need to Happen Before the Year’s Up (But Won’t)

There’s a lot going on in both the financial and political circles. First, we have tonight’s presidential debates, which, I’m afraid are going to be little more than a few “breaking news” stories to hit our in-boxes every time one of the candidates say something with any degree of wisdom.

While everyone’s gearing up for that – whatever it ultimately becomes, there are a lot of other things flying under the radar – and honestly, it almost seems as though it’s intentionally planned this way. Either way, there are a few things that really need to happen before the end of the year, but certainly won’t.

The state of New York filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase on Monday. This is just another minor blip for Dimon & Co, who have glided through the entire financial brouhaha with not so much as hurt feelings. Still, you can’t help but wonder when it’s going to catch up not only with the “big banks”, but specifically Jamie Dimon. You can be sure of one thing – this lawsuit? This is not the “catch up” so many are waiting for. In fact, when the news broke, one might have expected it to affect the banking giant’s shares to fall – it barely registered at all. Do the words “too big to fail” sound appropriate here?

Here’s the problem though – New York’s attorney general said this isn’t about forcing anyone to take responsibility via criminal avenues – the lawsuit is being filed from a civil perspective. I get the sense that AG Schneiderman would have things take a different path if he had his way. He’s already vented his frustration that “more has not been done to hold accountable the Wall Street banks” and that the irresponsible and at least unethical choices behind “the mortgage-backed bonds that imploded” and all but “brought down the U.S. economy”. So where is the FBI? Where is the SEC? I don’t know either – but take a look at what the FBI says:

“With losses totaling approximately $40 billion per year, combating Securities and Commodities Fraud remains a priority for the FBI. The FBI is investigating 1655 cases of Securities and Commodities Fraud and has 157 agents dedicated to the problem.”

These are criminal cases the FBI is referring to. More than 1,600 cases with less than 200 agents to handle them? How did the problem get so big to start with?

There has to come a point in time when those responsible are held criminally responsible. This civil nonsense? Think it’s a big deal? Two questions: did you know another lawsuit was filed Friday against Bank of America from the state of New York? Most people didn’t. Have you seen Jamie Dimon plastered all over the airwaves, showing concern that his bank is facing yet one more lawsuit? This is like, I don’t know, the third or fourth lawsuit this year alone. He’s not worried about this.

The best we can hope for is that the state will use the Martin Act in these suits. This will allow Schneiderman to present evidence without having to prove intent. As we know, folks love hiding behind the difficulties associated with proving intent when they’re facing a lawsuit. The banks hopefully won’t have that advantage.

A solution – a real solution (and in my opinion that includes criminal charges) needs to be found this year. We don’t want to drag this into a new year.

OK – second thing that needs to happen actually has a lot to do with tomorrow’s debate.

It’s short and sweet – these two candidates need to show passion in their arguments. Here’s where they’re going to fail miserably – first, they confuse passion for near-hatred they feel towards each other. More importantly though, they (meaning Obama and Romney) get so frustrated with one another that they forget it’s the taxpayers/consumers/American citizens they need to focus on. So yeah – they need to show bit of passion towards what really matters to the ones who will be casting their votes. Show a bit of maturity and respect and skip the stupidity.

Third thing – Congress needs to show a bit of maturity, as well. If the fiscal cliff comes full circle, and it appears it might (although some economists say it won’t), you and me and your boss and your worst enemy will immediately be hit with a staggering $3,500 tax increase. Don’t even kid yourself that the tax brackets will play any role in this, either. We’re all going to be paying it in some way or another. They need to be cornered or shamed or pushed – whatever it takes – into doing the right thing and finding a solution to the Bush tax cuts that will expire at midnight on December 31.

Fourth thing – We all know the media is bias. There are selfish motives, money, egos and a host of other unattractive reasons that drive the collective American media. If all of us took an interest in uncovering our own truth, the media would have no choice but to return to the more passive role it’s supposed to serve. There’s an old saying, “Be the only thinker in your own mind”. I used to tell my son that when he was a little one. I wanted him to grow up defining his own stance, his own beliefs and his own moral code. Seems like so many have allowed the media to do their thinking for them. Question everything. Make no mistake: these journalists that are landing in our living rooms every day? They too are human – they have their own opinions and beliefs and political parties. It’s time we all take responsibility for making up our own minds.

We Know the Costs, but are Ivy League Educations Worth it?

For the most part, the past few years have meant contracts with several financial-based clients who require my attention to be focused on Wall Street, Jamie Dimon and the rise and fall of the American credit card. While I’m no financial whiz, nothing gives me greater pleasure than knocking Jamie Dimon down a notch or two when his narcissistic declarations get in the way of the big picture. And his narcissism is what I hope ultimately brings him down – but that’s for another post.

The next week is my “calm before the storm”. April 15 is creeping up on us and there are several big reports everyone’s waiting on from the government. That, along with the upcoming presidential elections and the highly anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court on Obamacare, is sure to make this summer quite interesting. For now, though, or at least, for the next week, it’s all about catching up on Rolling Stone, Cosmo and all those episodes of the Brady Bunch I’ve been careful to not delete from the DVR. And don’t judge me.

I couldn’t wait to read Janet Reitman’s piece in Rolling Stone, “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses“. This, of course, has to do with Andrew Lohse, a former Dartmouth frat boy who was also the editor of the student paper, The Dartmouth. He decided to open the doors to those secretive hazing episodes that has resulted in the deaths of several kids across the country. I’m always amazed that a group of college kids can keep the lid on their secret lives in the fraternity while the U.S. government can’t figure out how to keep Julian Assange quiet. Again, though, that’s for another post.

As Reitman tells the story, images of rather disgusting behaviors begin to surface. The things these kids are willing to do is disturbing and begs the question “Why?” I understand the obligatory answers: to belong, to be part of something greater, to be a “bro” – I get all of that; but seriously? As Lohse describes in his editorial, “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks… among other abuses,” Who in God’s name would want to be a part of that brotherhood when the family you come from has the resources to send you to Dartmouth?

Here’s where I was able to link the incredulous story told by Reitman and Lohse. Earlier this week, the government released its own alarming report. In one of my recent posts for a client, here’s how I broke it down:

Did you know there is more than one trillion dollars owed in student loans? And did you know that figure continues to grow to the tune of almost $60 billion each month? It’s true. It’s also true that the delinquency rate is rapidly approaching the 30% mark. Of course, there are a lot of dynamics at play. The job market continues to struggle and college graduates are coming out of college with their degrees and no jobs to go into.

The icing on the cake is the realization that today’s college graduates are entering a job market where only 46% of the nation’s 18-24 year olds are employed. It hasn’t been this low since 1948, when the government began keeping up with the numbers. An ivy league degree isn’t really giving these young people an advantage. Unless you’re in New York or DC, or are willing to move out of the country, my guess is that noble Harvard or Dartmouth degree, while impressive, won’t amount to much, especially considering employers who see these educations on a resume will immediately dismiss the candidate because he knows his company can’t afford the applicant.

So, basically, we have a lot of frat boys who went to great lengths to “belong” to their brotherhood while gaining their ivy leave educations. Unfortunately, they’re going to struggle once those glory days are behind them and they realize that big bank or law firm that Daddy once ran is now in jeopardy. In hindsight, I wonder if it will occur to them that not only did all those vomit omelets do little more than place them in a so-called family that would allow that to happen, but that they’re also competing with people they never thought they would have to battle for a job. You know – the ones who took a bit more realistic approach to their futures and “settled” for a state university.

Most Annoying People of 2011

Knock yourself out

I love this time of year – clients are requesting “top 10” lists. And creative clients they are; they’re asking for the biggest celebrities, biggest scandals, top stories of redemption, it’s like a walk down memory lane for me before we charge into the new year.  Every year, I say I’m going to start my own tradition, but it never comes full circle. I chalk it up to the exhaustion from hitting so many deadlines, getting ready for Christmas and everything else the end of the year brings.

I’m determined this year, though. Not sure how many I’ll be able to pull off, but I woke up inspired, so here’s the first countdown.  Note: all the links take you to other related posts within this blog.

6. Harold Camping – Remember May 21, 2011? This was the day Harold Camping, a preacher (or as I like to refer him: someone else to piss me off about his willingness to twist the Bible to fit his ignorant beliefs) was certain the world was coming to an end. On its surface, it’s really rather silly, yes? The problem: there’s no shortage of weak-minded folks around the world who bought into this nonsense – and then promptly began selling off their material things, committing suicide and causing no end of family trauma for themselves. This, because of one sorely misguided effort of a man who keeps calling his false prophecies “mathematical errors” (he’s made the same claims at least four times – each with the date passing with no seas parting, world earthquakes or mass deaths).

5. Charlie Sheen– Alright, a disclaimer for Sheen being on this list: he appears to have made an impressive comeback. Still, you have to admit, he was the epitome of “self implosion” for several months earlier this year. From his goddesses to the phrases he made famous: “Adonis DNA” and “Winning” and “duh” (that one showed

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain

a true intelligence that wowed all of us, yes?). And those goddesses? Sheesh….don’t even get me started. So, even though he might make another list of mine, he’s earned a place on the most annoying list, too.

4. Herman Cain – No sooner had I decided I’d support Cain in his election efforts for the presidency than he goes and lets his mouth overload his ass. His comments about Occupy Wall Street spoke volumes. He missed the mark in an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. He had a golden opportunity to make a difference and then blew it. Most recently, he announced he was dropping out of the 2012 presidency campaign after allegations of a 13 year affair with a woman surfaced and the obligatory cheap stories of countless women who suddenly remembered they were sexually harassed by Cain at some point. He caved. That’s weak.

3. Eric Holder – Four words: Operation Fast and Furious. Holder needs to resign – like – yesterday. He allowed this program to move forward and as a result, a federal agent lost his life (doesn’t that equate to an accessory after the fact criminal charge?). His less-than-ideal attitude with the media is only adding fuel to the fire.

2. Jeff Ashton – I love the way this idiotic moron moved forward with his arrogant sense of entitlement in the Casey Anthony Case. Jose Baez handed his ass to him on a silver platter when the jury came back with not guilty verdicts for Anthony. So sure was he that he’d win this case based on the collective hatred of Anthony that he did little more than show up each day, prepped and ready for the camera. Who’s laughing now, Ashton? And by the way, it’s quite sleazy to write a book, earn money off of it and hit the talk show circuits after you expressed complete disgust for anyone who would take advantage and profit from this tragedy. Turns out he’s the most disgusting of all. Imagine that.

1. Jamie Dimon – Honestly, I thought Jeff Ashton would hit the top of my list this year; then Jamie Dimon opened his mouth.  This Mr. Wonderful is the one who starts brawls in boardrooms, takes millions in bonuses and then is the recipient, first of properly documented bailout funds (funded courtesy of you and me) and then, as it was revealed in late November, part of the “secret funds” that totaled $13 billion the Fed forgot to mention. Dimon is an example of the dangerous mindset in the country and epitomizes greed, disgust, a poorly formed sense of ethics a general lack of manners.

Alright – there it is. Check back later this week for more “best, worst and most” lists.

The Audacity of Jamie Dimon

One of my clients, whom I write a daily column for, is in the financial industry. Today, while researching some topics, I came across a new list by Money that names the 10 highest paid bank CEOs in the nation. I had also just found another bit of information regarding the growing fees we’ll be paying to our banks. From the elimination of free checking accounts to higher ATM fees, banking is about to become more expensive. Naturally, I combined those two tidbits for tomorrow’s post. Then things really got interesting.

Number one on the Money list is Jamie Dimon. He’s the CEO for J.P. Morgan Chase. In 2010, he earned an incredible $20.8 million dollars as his salary. It was up by 1,541.5% from the previous year – yes, as in “thousand”. He was paid more than $6 million in cash and $14.2 million in stock options. That’s huge, right? Actually, I found it disgusting, but of course, I couldn’t say that in the column. I can, however, say it here.

No sooner had I forwarded the completed article to the editor, I received another email about a certain CEO’s behavior at a recent IMF conference. That CEO was none other than Jamie Dimon. As my Maw Maw Nellie would say, “He let his mouth overload his ass” at this conference. He went into what was referred to as a “tirade” against the governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney. The heated screaming match began when

Knock yourself out

Carney said tighter banking regulations were needed. That, of course, would mean Dimon’s big paydays would likely come under scrutiny. He immediately began yelling that tighter regulations would mean the loss of jobs and would surely stall the financial recovery efforts.

Let’s call it for what it is, shall we? Dimon knows his 1,500% raises would cause big problems for him if regulators began plundering too deep. He wouldn’t have those stock options valued in the millions and he sure wouldn’t earn a cash salary in the millions of dollars range. That’s what his temper tantrum was really about. He could care less about the fate of the country in terms of a financial recovery. See, this goes back to what I posted last week about the need for a total collapse. As it is, the average consumer (read: you and me) will continue to struggle to save a few dollars and for many, it means making even tougher decisions like whether to make the mortgage or pay the utility bill. Meanwhile, jackasses like Dimon continue to rake in these handsome paydays – provided tighter banking regulations don’t come into play.

Dimon’s disgusting display continued until the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, stepped in and physically removed Dimon from the conference.

One thing is clear. Dimon definitely sold his common sense, manners and any sense of mature decorum in a deal with the devil in order to bring home those huge paychecks. Hope it was worth it.