Posted by Staff on August 01, 2014
Committee Passes Federal Reserve Accountability and Bipartisan Regulatory Relief Bills
On Wednesday the Full Committee passed 6 bills to provide transparency and accountability at the Federal Reserve, regulatory relief for the economy, and re-authorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.
The Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 5018) is legislation developed as part of the Committee’s Federal Reserve Centennial Oversight Project launched at the end of last year. Under the bill, the Fed would adopt a more predictable rules-based policy -- of the Fed’s own choosing -- that leads to a healthier and stronger economy. The bill also requires the Fed to share with the public whatever rules-based approach it chooses to adopt. Additionally, H.R. 5018 requires the Fed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis in order to ensure that the benefits of proposed regulations outweigh the costs to the economy.
“The overwhelming weight of evidence is that monetary policy is at its best in maintaining stable prices and maximum employment when it follows a clear, predictable monetary policy rule,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). “This legislation is about accountability and about transparency. It’s not about theory because history shows that when the Fed lets job creators, entrepreneurs, small business people and everyone else know how monetary policy will be conducted, the economy performs better and more people get to go to work.”
Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ), a co-author of the bill, said H.R. 5018 takes “important steps toward establishing a more appropriate level of transparency at the Fed. As things stand now, the Fed’s regulatory activities take place behind a fraternity-like veil of secrecy, obstructing openness, and preventing proper accountability. And when it comes to monetary policy, like the Wizard of Oz, it’s time we bring the Fed out from behind the curtain.”
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), also a co-author of the bill, said H.R. 5018 will lift “the veil of secrecy surrounding the Fed by making it more open and transparent.”
In addition to H.R. 5018, the Committee also marked up four more pro-jobs bills that are designed to provide the economy with relief from Washington red tape.
"So far the committee has passed 38 different regulatory relief bills that will hopefully lead to smarter regulation and greater economic growth. Twenty of them have passed the House, many with bipartisan support. We hope to add at least five more to that list today. We look forward to the Senate actually doing anything, but we would particularly look forward to the Senate taking up some of this legislation," said Chairman Hensarling.
"Again, job number one will continue to be the creation of jobs and economic growth in this committee. These bills are designed to ensure just that," added Chairman Hensarling.
Subcommittee Investigates Discrimination and Retaliation at the CFPB
The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Wednesday held a hearing to question CFPB Director Richard Cordray about allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the CFPB. Over the past several months, the Subcommittee has heard shocking testimony from whistleblowers, Bureau officials and an independent investigator on what has been described as a "hostile working environment" and "culture of intimidation and retaliation" at the CFPB.
"People are suffering and feel unprotected at their place of work and we've heard from them. [CFPB] managers have been given unequivocal free reign resulting in a toxic management culture that lacks accountability and trust. Employees fear speaking out and fear asserting their rights lest they suffer reprisals and retaliations. This must change," said Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC).
"The problems are much larger than some modifications to a performance management system. The problem is a CFPB management culture that condones intimidation, discrimination, and retaliation. And if the director has failed to reprimand and remove bad managers, then the problem is also his leadership or lack thereof," said Chairman McHenry.
Chairman McHenry also announced at the hearing that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to probe the CFPB’s management practices and organizational culture. The GAO review was requested by Chairman Hensarling, Chairman McHenry and Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee.
Rep. Bill Huizenga | Santelli Exchange: Fed reform
Rep. Huizenga and CNBC's Rick Santelli discuss the Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act.
Weekend Must Reads
Washington Examiner | The Export-Import Bank socializes risk for private benefit
You might wonder why lawmakers would refuse to acknowledge this reality. For one, politicians are pressured by an army of lobbyists representing powerful companies who are committed to protect their perks even if it hurts everyone else. But politicians are not exactly shrinking violets, here. They like being able to point to the small businesses and American jobs that they “support” through the Ex-Im Bank. What is much harder is to point to the millions of victims of the Ex-Im Bank. Taxpayers, for instance, bear a massive $140 billion exposure so that giant corporations like Boeing and General Electric can make a little more profit each year. Should the bank’s portfolio go south, normal people like you and I will be on the hook.
The Hill | Dodd-Frank doesn’t end ‘too big to fail’
Dodd-Frank's Orderly Resolution plans do not end "too big to fail." The recent House Financial Services Committee Republican report discusses the flaws in these plans. Orderly Resolution plans have been compared to pre-packaged bankruptcies, or blueprints for speedy reorganizations using bankruptcy that will keep financial institutions open and operating and thereby remove the risk of financial instability. On close examination, this analogy breaks down because these plans lack creditor participation. The key to a successful prepackaged bankruptcy is creditor acceptance of a debt restructuring plan before entering bankruptcy. But creditors do not approve Orderly Resolution plans. The plans are kept secret from creditors, and the institutions filing the plans are not even obligated to follow them in bankruptcy.
Wall Street Journal | Liberals Love the 'One Percent'
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank's goal is "to help Main Street not Wall Street," and many liberal commentators seem convinced that she is advancing that goal. But talk to anyone on Wall Street. If they are being frank, they'll admit that the Fed's loose monetary policy has been one of the biggest contributors to their returns over the past five years. Unwittingly, it seems, liberals who support the Fed are defending policies that boost the wealth of the wealthy but do nothing to reduce inequality.
Wall Street Journal | The Danger of Too Loose, Too Long
The Fed has been running a hyper-accommodative monetary policy to lift the economy out of the doldrums and counteract a possible deflationary spiral. Much of what we have paid out to purchase Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities has been put back to the Fed in the form of excess reserves deposited at the Federal Reserve banks. As of July 9, $2.517 trillion of excess reserves were parked on the 12 Fed banks' balance sheets, while depository institutions wait to find eager and worthy borrowers to lend to.
In the News
Washington Examiner | CFPB opens new investigation in bid to exonerate bureau managers on discrimination
Times Record News | Neugebauer wants to get government out of terror insurance
Wall Street Journal | House Panel Passes Bill to Ease Capital Requirements on MSRs
Real Clear Markets | Dodd-Frank's Birthday Marred By Its Many Inadequacies
Posted by Staff on August 01, 2014
e·gre·gious -- outstandingly bad; shocking.
Not long ago, Ex-Im’s taxpayer-backed loans for Abengoa were featured as an Egregious Ex-Im Deal of the Day. Today, the company (and Ex-Im’s ties to it) are back in the news…and not in a good way.
We’ll let the Washington Free Beacon take it from here in its report: “Former Employees Allege Widespread Illegality at Taxpayer-Backed Solar Company”.
Posted by Staff on July 30, 2014
The Export-Import Bank’s approval of $3 billion in financing for a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea reportedly led to the deaths of 27 villagers who were killed on January 24, 2012 in a massive landslide.
Posted by Staff on July 28, 2014
With a House committee preparing to examine allegations of corruption at the Export-Import Bank, it’s an appropriate time to remember a couple of other instances involving corruption from Ex-Im’s history.
Posted by Staff on July 25, 2014
Committee Reviews the Dodd-Frank Act on its 4-year Anniversary
On Wednesday, the full committee held a hearing to assess the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on America’s Main Street economy and hard-working American taxpayers on its 4th anniversary of being signed into law.
"It wasn’t deregulation; it was bad regulation that helped lead us into this crisis. So if you get the wrong diagnosis you get the wrong remedy. Dodd-Frank has been the wrong remedy, adding incomprehensible complexity to incomprehensible complexity," said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). "So at the time Dodd-Frank was passed, we were told it would would 'lift the economy,' 'end too big to fail,' 'end bailouts,' 'increase financial stability' and 'increase investment and entrepreneurship.' And instead, what have we learned? We have learned that it is now official that we are in the slowest, weakest recovery in the history of the nation. Tens of millions of our countrymen now unemployed or underemployed. Negative economic growth in the last quarter. Business startups at a 20-year low. One out of seven dependent upon food stamps."
"The House Financial Services Committee has moved numerous regulatory relief bills, a number of which have actually passed with bipartisan support; none of which I recall being taken up by the Democratic Senate," added Chairman Hensarling.
Mr. Dale Wilson, a community banker from San Diego, Texas provided a first-hand account to the committee of how Dodd-Frank's "excessive regulation and government micro-management" has forced banks to consolidate due to the inability to "maintain profitability in an environment where the regulatory compliance costs are increasing between 50 and 200 percent."
"The real costs of the increased regulatory burden are being felt by small town borrowers and businesses that no longer have access to credit. When a small town loses its only bank, it loses its lifeblood. It's more difficult to improve schools, health care facilities, and other infrastructure projects. I know it was not the intent of Congress when it passed Dodd-Frank to harm community banks, but that is the awful reality," said Mr. Wilson.
Paul Kupiec, a former FDIC official and current Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, also testified at the hearing and debunked the myth asserted by Dodd-Franks supporters that Dodd-Frank ended “Too Big to Fail.”
“Ironically, Dodd-Frank’s heightened expectations of a government’s commitment to remove the possibility of a future financial crisis may increase the probability that such a crisis will occur and require government support for the largest financial institutions that have been identified as too-big-to-fail,” said Kupiec.
Subcommittee Examines the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance
On Thursday, the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. This was the second in a series of SEC oversight hearings.
"It is unfortunate indeed that the SEC still does not embrace its mission to promote capital formation with as much zeal and enthusiasm as it does with Dodd-Frank. Our markets and economy are worse for it," said Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ).
"At a time when small businesses continue to struggle to raise capital and investors are having difficulty earning a return on their investment, the SEC should not harm small business job-creators or the investing public by reducing the amount of participants in this field eligible for private placement," added Chairman Garrett.
"The JOBS Act and numerous bipartisan bills that have passed out of this committee highlight the fact that the SEC needs to do more to promote capital formation through common sense updates to its regulations," said Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA).
Rep. Patrick McHenry | Four years after Dodd-Frank fix, system still broken
Among the great indignities of the financial crisis: American families were footing the bill for the massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other large financial institutions while struggling to scrape by in the broken economy. In 2009, Bloomberg estimated that the U.S. government and other federal agencies had committed nearly $13 trillion to support these failing institutions. The nearly $13 trillion represented 90% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008. In signing the law, Obama claimed that never again would the American people foot the bill for these large firms. Yet amazingly Dodd-Frank does not just fail to end these bailouts, it cements them into law and greatly increases the likelihood the American people will be stuck with the federal government's bailout tab again in the future.
Weekend Must Reads
Fox News | Derailing the American Dream since 2010: Thanks a lot, Dodd-Frank
Dodd-Frank and the rest of Washington over-regulation help explain why the U.S. economy today is $1.6 trillion smaller than what an average economic recovery over the last 50 years looks like. This lackluster performance explains why a family of four today is missing more than $1,100 in after-tax income and why there are nearly 6 million fewer jobs compared with the average recovery. The answer is less Dodd-Frank, less red tape and more free enterprise and economic freedom. Free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than all the government anti-poverty programs combined. It is the only economic system that frees ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.
Citizens Against Government Waste | CAGW Names CFPB Director Richard Cordray July Porker of the Month
He singled out window replacement, plumbing and electrical upgrades, and a new roof as cost centers for the renovations, yet plans for the building also include such luxurious amenities as an indoor waterfall, a four-story glass staircase, a sunken garden, a custom “green” roof, and stools commissioned from world-renowned sculptor Maya Lin. The building, which is being rented, was accepted in “as is” condition by CFPB officials, and will not even house all of the CFPB’s staff. The renovation will cost approximately $590 per square foot, which is more than double the average cost for renovating some of Washington’s most high-end office buildings. According to the House Financial Services Committee, “…the CFPB is spending much more per square foot than it cost to build the Trump World Tower ($334/square foot), the Bellagio Hotel and Casino ($330/square foot) and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai ($450/square foot).” The latest estimated cost of $215.8 million is 37 percent greater than the value of the building, which was appraised at $157.3 million in 2011. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has demanded that Director Cordray produce “full, unredacted” records related to the escalating costs for the building renovation by July 31, 2014.
Washington Times | At 4, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still unaccountable
The bureau's head, currently Richard Cordray, cannot be fired, no matter how poor his performance. He's armed with unlimited authority, enabling him to splurge on luxuries. He spent $216 million redecorating the bureau's headquarters with such amenities as a two-story waterfall and a glass staircase. The "consumer protection" bureau is now worth more per square foot than the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas or the opulent Burj Khalifa in Dubai, where a guest can sleep in a room designed by Giorgio Armani for $7,000 per night (if he can sleep at all after paying $7,000 for a place to sleep).
Investor's Business Daily | Four Years In, Dodd-Frank Hasn't Fixed Anything
"Ironically, Dodd-Frank's heightened expectations of a government commitment to remove the possibility of a future financial crisis may increase the probability that such a crisis will occur and require government support," former FDIC official Paul Kupiec, now with the American Enterprise Institute, testified this week. Meanwhile, nonbanks such as GE Capital, GMAC and other industrial finance companies came under the government's heavy regulatory hand for the first time ever. New agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now controls all consumer lending, and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a super-regulatory board with sweeping powers and no direct accountability to Congress, have become a dead hand.
On the Horizon
July 29, 2014 10:00 a.m.
In the News
Wall Street Journal | House Republicans Take Aim at Dodd-Frank
Wall Street Journal | Dodd-Frank Law Still Far From Finished
Wall Street Journal | Four Years of Dodd-Frank Damage
American Banker | DOJ Memo Leaves No Doubt About Choke Point’s Motives
American Banker | In Year Four of Dodd-Frank, Over-Regulation Is Getting Old
Washington Times | MORICI: Yellen’s denials of rising inflation
Posted by on July 24, 2014
The Export-Import Bank just can’t help themselves.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country described as having “a high standard of living because of oil wealth,” sovereign wealth over $1 trillion in assets and a per-capita GDP of over $58,000, decided it needed some new aircraft and turbines.
Who better to help than American taxpayers through the Export-Import Bank?
In FY2013, the Ex-Im Bank offered over $1 billion worth of loans and loan guarantees backed by hardworking Americans’ taxpayer dollars to the UAE to buy aircraft from Boeing and turbines from General Electric.
With this latest deal, U.S. taxpayers have a total exposure of more than $6.2 billion to the oil-rich UAE, all thanks to Ex-Im.
If a country clearly has the means to finance projects without relying on American taxpayers, why should it get money from Ex-Im?
Posted by Staff on July 23, 2014
Mexico-based satellite operator known as Satmex announced it doesn’t need a loan from the Export-Import Bank to finance the purchase of Boeing satellites.
But that’s no reason not to take the “free money” financed by hardworking U.S. taxpayers through Ex-Im, is it?
In a conference call with investors, Satmex’s CEO Juan Garcia “said the company is nonetheless still working” to receive “a low-interest loan” from Ex-Im for $255.4 million, according to a report in SpaceNews.
If a company can finance a project without Ex-Im, why should it get money from Ex-Im?
Posted by Staff on July 22, 2014
Why is Australia’s richest citizen – worth at least $18 billion – receiving loans backed by American taxpayers?
The Sydney Morning Herald calls it “the latest example of a flaw in the United States political economy: what some see as crony capitalism.”
Regrettably, “crony capitalism” is just what the Export-Import Bank does day-in, day-out: use hardworking taxpayers to finance crony deals for the powerful, the wealthy, and the well-connected.
Here are the deal details:
Australia’s richest citizen, billionaire mining heiress Gina Rinehart, secured a $694 million loan from American taxpayers thanks to Ex-Im’s support for the Roy Hill iron ore project.
Why are U.S. taxpayers involved? Because – as the newspaper reports – “Commercial banks and bond investors were reluctant to shoulder all the risk.”
If big banks and bond investors won’t take the risk, then why should American taxpayers be forced to?
Could this egregious deal get any worse? Why, yes.
Not only does Ex-Im risk taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, Ex-Im’s financing of the deal also puts American jobs at risk. Four Democratic senators say the project will “substantially injure American iron ore and steel producers and their employees that are competing in the same global marketplace.”
Explains Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “My grandfather worked 1,500 feet underground as a miner, and countless other men and women in Northern Minnesota have worked hard providing iron ore to the world. It doesn’t make sense for our government to be funding our competition, especially when this project could have such a negative impact on local economies and the livelihoods of so many miners.”
Posted by Staff on July 22, 2014
At his event in Seattle tonight, it won’t be surprising if President Obama praises the Export-Import Bank as a “jobs creator” that “doesn’t cost taxpayers anything.”
It’s a far cry from how he used to describe the Export-Import Bank – as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”
The President may hope that his audience is unfamiliar with those remarks. He may also hope they overlook the fact that the Ex-Im Bank has been doing business with Russian companies that his Treasury Department added to its sanctions list.
But here are five important facts about Ex-Im:
1). The Ex-Im Bank doesn’t create jobs.
Government export finance assistance programs like Ex-Im “largely shift production among sectors within the economy rather than raise the overall level of employment in the economy.” - Government Accountability Office, “Export-Import Bank: Key Factors in Considering Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization”
“[A]t best the Ex-Im Bank creates jobs in export industries by destroying jobs in non-export industries.” – Donald Bodreaux, Ph.D, Professor of Economics at George Mason University\
“By some estimates, the Bank’s loan guarantees have resulted in up to 7,500 lost U.S. carrier jobs, and up to $684 million of lost income for U.S. airline employees annually.” – Delta Airlines
2). The Ex-Im Bank doesn’t return money to the taxpayers.
The Ex-Im Bank’s profits aren’t real. They are an accounting illusion. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that if the Bank followed more accurate accounting rules, its ledger would show a cost to taxpayers of $200 million/year, or $2 billion over 10 years. -- CBO Fair-Value Estimate
3). Less Than 1 Percent of 1 Percent of America’s Small Businesses Benefit From Ex-Im.
Congress requires that 20% of Ex-Im’s authorizations go to small businesses, but Ex-Im consistently fails to meet this statutory requirement. In reality, just 0.009 percent of America’s small businesses receive any help at all from Ex-Im.
Instead, Ex-Im’s subsidies go overwhelmingly to very large corporations like Boeing, GE and Caterpillar.
4). The Ex-Im Bank uses American taxpayers’ money to help foreign corporations, including businesses that are owned by the governments of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Of the 50 largest loans or guarantees approved by the Ex-Im Bank since FY2007, 46% of the loans have gone to state-owned companies or to a joint-venture that includes a state-owned company.
5). The Ex-Im Bank financed only 1.6% of total U.S. exports in 2013.
That’s less than 0.18 percent of the total U.S. economy.
Posted by Staff on July 21, 2014
On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the Full Committee will hold a hearing to assess the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on its four-year anniversary. To view the committee staff report on “too big to fail” that was released today, click here.
On Thursday at 10:00 a.m. the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.
Be sure to check back here on the Bottom Line Blog -- and sign up for our email updates -- for additional information throughout the week.