Trending Thursday is a roundup of the stories shaping the week and what’s yet to come through the weekend — also taking into account social media reaction. Think of it as a midweek Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, but with extra caffeine and an extra splash of social media peppered throughout.
The CFPB has come under fire in recent months for instituting a program to acquire and monitor the purchase of more than 500 million credit cards of American consumers.
A U.S. Consumer Coalition–Zogby Analytics poll published last week found that a majority of Americans oppose the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s monitoring of Americans’ spending and also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to see the CFPB subject to congressional oversight through the appropriations process.
Now the program being put through the wringer by an admittedly partisan source in the Wall Street Journal, but the source in question raises some bipartisan concerns.
A Pew survey in May showed bipartisan majority disapproval of the NSA program—including 56% of Republicans, 48% of Democrats and 57% of independents. Yet the NSA at least was trying to protect Americans from terrorism. Another, far more pernicious data-collection program run by another huge, secretive and unaccountable government bureaucracy exists instead for the purpose of limiting Americans’ freedom.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, through its 12 data-mining programs, collects and monitors information for nearly 600 million personal credit-card accounts on a monthly basis. The CFPB is gearing up to monitor 95% of all credit-card transactions by 2016.
If your cellphone bill can reveal that much personal information, imagine how much is contained in your credit-card bill. Every restaurant you visit, every drugstore purchase, every trip you go on, every time you fill up your car—all potentially scooped up by a government agency. And earlier this year MIT researchers demonstrated a method to “re-identify” anonymous credit-card data.
Every month the CFPB also gathers data on 22 million mortgages, 5.5 million student loans, two million bank accounts with overdraft fees, and hundreds of thousands of auto sales, credit scores and deposit advance loans.
The agency claims most of the data it acquires through third parties is anonymous. But as in the case with the NSA surveillance, anonymous means only that the CFPB hasn’t connected the data with a name at the time they collect it. All of the data the CFPB is accumulating adds up to millions of detailed profiles of American citizens.
The noise-to-signal ratio on the issue of #FannieGate may be high, but more and more media are starting to pay attention to the plight of GSE shareholders who believe they were shafted by the Treasury third amendment sweep of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac profits.
In fact, the legal efforts by shareholders are one of a couple of key housing-related pieces of litigation our friends at Law360 (subscription required) think everyone should be watching.
As noted in the beginning of the year, eyes have been on hedge fund Fairholme Capital Management's challenge to the government's directing all the profits from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac toward the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The company alleges the government acted unconstitutionally when it altered its bailout deal for the government-sponsored enterprises to keep the companies' profits for itself.
The parties are currently deep into discovery, and a spat has recently arisen over the plaintiff’s attempt to remove a “protected” designation from the depositions of former Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco and interim FHFA ombudsman Mario Ugoletti. A status conference on that motion has been tentatively penciled in for July, according to court documents.
There’s also concern about construction and lease-related litigation brewing.
The real estate market is currently seeing a frenzy of construction in several major cities, and there is a lot of prelitigation activity occurring over alleged deficiencies with new build outs or projects — at least some of which are likely to eventually make their way into court, according to Charles D. Jarrell, a Los Angeles litigation partner with Allen Matkins LLP.
“What we're seeing more of in the past six months or so are disputes arising out of construction in tenant office space,” Jarrell said, adding that there are also increasing numbers of disputes arising from lease deals. “Tenants are fighting over option rights, renewal rights and terms.”
Generally, existing tenants are fighting to enact terms that were negotiated during a softer market, while landlords are toughening up and trying to deny expansion options or renewal rights so that new deals can be struck at better terms in this healthier market, said Jarrell, who spoke from his experience with the California markets, but noted that the area is emblematic of other cities seeing development booms.
The robustness of the office and lease deals sector is also in large part why most attorneys are trying to keep the disputes out of court, requesting litigators like himself to do confidential reviews of disputes so that projects aren't derailed off their timelines by a visit to court or formal arbitration. “That's a product of the heat of the market,” noted Jarrell. “But they're not going to be able to resolve all of those, and some will go to litigation. I imagine ... some of that is going to bubble up in a year.”
Mark your calendars for a free market take on the benefits and the heavy costs of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Protection Act
July 21 marks the fifth birthday of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was enacted in the emotional wake of the financial crisis.
Dodd-Frank may be the most expansive and restrictive financial-services regulation since the New Deal.
A panel of free market minds including Mark Calabria of the Cato Institute, U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas; Chris Iacovella from Bloomberg; Alex Pollock from the American Enterprise Institute; J.W. Verret of the Mercatus Center; and Peter Wallison of AEI will discuss the impact and future of Dodd-Frank.
The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center has just released a new blog that looks at whether the mortgage market can handle the surge in minority homeownership that’s coming.
The blog discusses the predictions about minority homeownership found in HFPC’s recent longitudinal study of household formation and homeownership rates between now and 2030.
Why is this important ? We’ll see a surge of 9 million new homeowners by 2030, more than half of whom will be Hispanic , 11% black, and 29% people of other races.
The increasingly minority and disproportionately Hispanic composition of the new homeowners highlights the need to widen the credit box by incenting lenders to ease their credit requirements, as well as to develop credit standards that adequately reflect the financial capability of this group. For example, many Hispanic families have more than two incomes, a reality not accounted for in traditional mortgage underwriting. The erosion of African American homeownership needs to be addressed by more than just mortgage policy; African Americans face unique challenges in education, employment, and criminal justice, all of which hinder their ability to achieve economic security and accrue assets.
Fed Whisperer Hilsenrath Hints: Despite Jobs Miss, Yellen Will Hike In 2015 http://t.co/EKFiT9vMnB— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 2, 2015
On a final note, Happy Independence Day, America!
Let's all never forget that the last line in the Star-Spangled Banner is a question — "Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"
And it's up to us to ensure that the answer to that question is always "Yes!"