Posted by Staff on July 17, 2015
Committee Focuses on Monetary Policy and the Economy

The Federal Reserve’s lack of transparency and accountability and the state of the U.S. economy were the main topics members addressed at Wednesday’s Financial Services Committee hearing with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

"Following a monetary policy convention or rule of the Fed’s own choosing, with the power to amend it or deviate from it at the Fed’s own choosing, in no way interferes with the Fed’s monetary policy independence. Accountability and independence are not mutually exclusive concepts," said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) in his opening statement. "Dodd-Frank confers sweeping new powers on the Fed to regulate and control virtually every corner of the financial services sector of our economy, completely separate and apart from its traditional monetary policy role. Yet too often, the Fed appears to shield these activities from public view and improperly cloaks them behind monetary policy independence."

Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA) made similar points. "Historically, when the Fed has followed a rules-based approach, these periods have experienced strong economic performance and strong employment."

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) told Chair Yellen how the Dodd-Frank Act is harming local communities and small financial institutions. “At home our people are feeling the pain of bad policy that’s come out of Dodd-Frank. What are you going to be doing at the Fed to alleviate this?” he asked.

“Well, we are very focused on community banks,” Chair Yellen replied.

“That’s what they’re worried about,” responded Rep. Tipton.

Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) spoke to Chair Yellen about the nation’s struggling economy. “This month marks five years since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act. At the signing ceremony, President Obama proclaimed that the law would lift our economy and lead all of us to a stronger, more prosperous future. Yet since that time, the law has resulted in some 400 new government mandates which research has shown will reduce gross domestic product by $895 billion over the next decade – or $3,346 for each working age person.”

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) focused his comments at the hearing on how the Fed’s highly accommodative monetary policy has exacerbated our spending-driven debt. “My great fear is current monetary policy ultimately emboldens us to engage in bad fiscal policy – and we’re going to pay a price for that. I think that future, particularly if we keep seeing the revisions on our GDP growth, we may have to deal with this sooner than later.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) also focused on the nation’s spiraling debt. "I was a state treasurer in Maine and I can tell you that high levels of public debt caused by long periods of deficit spending can do great damage to our economy because we need to pay the interest on that rising debt, therefore, we're not able to spend it to build roads, and bridges, and educate our kids," added Rep. Poliquin.

Subcommittee Calls for Transparency and Accountability at the Federal Reserve

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on Tuesday to examine the Federal Reserve’s lack of transparency and accountability.

While the powers of the Federal Reserve significantly increased under the Dodd-Frank Act signed into law five years ago this month, its level accountability and transparency have not.

In its coverage of the hearing, The Hill reported that “Republicans made the case Tuesday that the Fed’s insistence on political independence serves as a shield from oversight and policy changes from lawmakers.”

“While the Fed’s purview and power continues to grow, opacity reigns supreme within its walls. It is a veritable fraternity where silence is golden, and no one, not even Congress, is allowed to ask questions. This is true not only of how it conducts monetary policy, but also of its internal processes,” said Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI).  “The Fed’s clamor for ‘independence’ is the underpinning of its argument for circumventing any Congressional accountability. Markets are left in the dark almost as much as Congress. Unless, that is, you are one of the lucky, well-capitalized firms that can afford inside, non-public information into the black box that is the Fed.”

“Over the last five years the Federal Reserve system’s influence over the economy has grown through the development of new rules and requirements for our financial institutions, with little involvement or consultation by Congress,” said Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

Paul H. Kupiec of the American Enterprise Institute testified before the Subcommittee that the Federal Reserve “routinely acts as if its independence on monetary policy matters shields it” from accountability and transparency on other matters, including “congressional inquiries regarding internal investigations. Congress must mandate greater transparency.”

“The Federal Reserve played a starring role in both creating the financial crisis and in its response. Despite that role and the Fed’s numerous failings, Dodd-Frank largely expanded its responsibilities,” said Dr. Mark Calabria of the Cato Institute, who appeared as a witness at the hearing.  “Without reform, including greater accountability and transparency, the Federal Reserve is almost certain to continue its pattern of inflating asset bubbles, in the false hope such will create wealth and jobs.”


Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick | Deal Must Prevent Nuclear Iran

“Next week, the bipartisan Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing I am proud to chair will take a closer look at Iran’s role in financing terrorist groups around the world; information that I feel is vital to the Administration, Congress and American people when reviewing any nuclear agreement with Iran that includes sanctions relief.”

Weekend Must Reads

Reuters | Banking regulators heighten financial market risk

It is an unavoidable fact that one of the greatest potential risks to the financial markets is the work of regulators themselves.

Wall Street Journal | Playing the Music of Capitalism

If the champions of free markets hope to sell the message to those who aren’t already sold, they need to speak to the heart as much as to the head.

Forbes | Five Years Of Dodd-Frank: 'Too Big To Fail' Still Unresolved

Decades of federal policies have helped save firms and their creditors from bankruptcy, and Dodd-Frank has done virtually nothing to reverse that trend.

    On the Horizon 

July 22, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee Hearing

"Examining Federal Reserve Reform Proposals"

July 22, 2015 2:00 p.m.
Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Hearing

"The Iran Nuclear Deal and its Impact on Terrorism Financing"

July 23, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Hearing
“Ending Too Big to Fail: What is the Proper Role of Capital and Liquidity?”

  In the News

Wall Street Journal | House Committee Will Interview Fed Staffers on Leak Probe, Chairman Says

The Hill | GOP uses Fed standoff to build case for reforms

New York Times | Yellen Warns Congress Against Adding to Fed’s Oversight

The Hill | Yellen spars with GOP on leak probe, Fed reforms

Reuters | Yellen stands by Fed's transparency as lawmakers turn up hea

Wall Street Journal | Janet Yellen’s Fed Flounders in Political Arena

Washington Free Beacon | Yellen: Fed Unwilling to Comply With Investigation Surrounding FOMC Leak

Reuters | Yellen stands by Fed's transparency as lawmakers turn up heat

The Hill | The Department of Labor best-interest proposal isn’t about best interest

The Hill | Dodd-Frank legislation has expanded federal control of banks
New York Sun | A Fed Without Vision

Posted by Staff on July 10, 2015
Committee Explores Dodd-Frank's Impact on Financial Stability

On Thursday, the Financial Services Committee held the first of a series of planned hearings on the impacts the Dodd-Frank Act has had in the five years since it was signed into law.

Thursday’s hearing focused on whether Dodd-Frank has made the financial system more or less stable, and it comes on the heels of a report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) that many of the systemic risks identified by FSOC are the direct result of government policies, including Dodd-Frank.  Dodd-Frank’s Volcker Rule, for example, has made capital markets less liquid and more fragile, undermining rather than enhancing financial stability.  The lack of liquidity means financial markets have less capacity to deal with shocks and will be more likely to seize up in a panic.  Rather than making markets more stable, the new regulations have made them more brittle.

Backing that up, a recent Federal Reserve survey of credit officers shows that “over four-fifths of respondents characterized current liquidity and market functioning…as having deteriorated over the past five years,” according to a Reuters report.

Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) in his opening statement emphasized the increased risk to stability that Dodd-Frank has created. "Dodd-Frank has codified 'Too Big to Fail' into law and provided a taxpayer-funded bailout system in Title I and Title II of the Act. This simply leads to even greater moral hazard and to greater instability. According to the Richmond Federal Reserve, the explicit federal guarantees of financial sector liabilities have increased to a whopping 60 percent post-Dodd-Frank. When private investors, depositors, and counterparties expect a bailout, their incentives to monitor risk clearly wane. Regulatory micromanagement is no substitute for market discipline. By this measure, Dodd-Frank has clearly made our financial system riskier."

Rep. Robert Hurt spoke on Dodd-Frank's unintended consequences that have harmed Main Street, our economy’s engine for job creation and growth. "This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was sold to the American people as a solution to the financial crisis of 2008. A recent Harvard study articulates how Dodd-Frank has actually given Wall Street an advantage over Main Street - the exact opposite of what its proponents said it would do. The consequences of this misguided law have been increased burdens on our Main Street banks and their customers through excessive regulations, contributing to a stagnant economy and unnecessarily high unemployment rates."

Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute, testified at Thursday’s hearing that “moral hazard has been increased by Dodd-Frank’s expansion of the financial safety net and increased concentration of risk into fewer entities, while the primary 18 causes of the crisis were largely left untouched.”

Dodd-Frank's SIFI Designation Process Comes Under Subcommittee’s Review

The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday to examine the designation process of “systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs) and the impact it has on financial institutions. Committee members heard testimony about the process for determining whether bank holding companies (BHCs) are systemically important and the consequences these designations carry.

Many commentators – including members of Congress and banking regulators – have criticized the arbitrary manner in which the Dodd-Frank Act designates bank holding companies as systemically important.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) said, "I never thought I would be quoting Barney Frank but effectively he's come out and said we didn't intend for it to be able to go this far in terms of a regulatory regime.  And I think that it really speaks to an out of control regulatory process where a broad-based piece of legislation is being put forward and we're leaving the regulators to fill in the blanks."

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) voiced his concern about the "diminishing returns of increased regulation."

"When a regional bank is spending $200 million on compliance projects and hiring 500 additional non-loan officer staff, it really makes you question who's benefiting. Certainly not the customer looking for a loan, looking to build a home, start a business, or pay for a child's education," he said.

“This year, our Committee has held several hearings examining the regulatory burdens facing community financial institutions.  The issue before us today is no different. Money spent to comply with unnecessary regulations can be better allocated to loans for small businesses and consumers," said Subcommittee Chairman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).

Subcommittee Conducts Oversight of HUD's Public and Indian Housing Programs

The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing today to examine the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Public and Indian Housing operation and programs.

"We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the need for reform in our nation’s housing programs," said Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) in his opening statement. "As I’ve said in the past, the status quo isn’t good enough. The reality is that the funding situation isn’t going to get better. Despite even the best of attempts, asking for more federal dollars isn’t the solution. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and work together to build a stronger Office of Public and Indian Housing and a better HUD."


Rep. Lynn Jenkins | Congresswoman Jenkins Marks 5 Year Anniversary of Dodd-Frank

This week we are pleased to feature a Member not on the Committee who is joining us in speaking out about the harm Dodd-Frank is having on Main Street: Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference.

Weekend Must Reads

Financial Times | Free Lunch: Still too big to fail

That suggests perceptions of too-big-to-fail are alive and well. If so, and if those perceptions are right, it is bad for the rest of us who are not too big to fail but small enough to pay.

Wall Street Journal | MetLife Calls the Regulators’ Bluff

Now that we know the weakness of the FSOC’s data, Congress should consider whether the SIFI designation process makes sense. It should not leave the answer to an unaccountable organization of financial regulators.

    On the Horizon 

July 14, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing

"Fed Oversight: Lack of Transparency and Accountability"

July 15, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Hearing

"Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy"

  In the News

American Banker | Dodd-Frank Battle Lines Intensify on Verge of Five-Year Mark

Bloomberg | Midsize Bank Challenges $50 Billion SIFI Threshold

Inquisitr | Reps. Luetkemeyer, Neugebauer Stand For Consumers By Reigning In And Reforming CFPB

DS News | Lawmakers Debate ‘Too Big to Fail’ and Criteria for ‘Systemically Important’ Tag

U.S. News | Five Years After Dodd-Frank, CFPB Still Under Fire

Credit Union Times | Dodd-Frank Debated in Congress | Have the Dodd-Frank Financial Reforms Been a Success?

MarketWatch | Five Years After Dodd-Frank, Here Come the Reviews

DSNews | House Committee Schedules Hearings Marking Anniversary of Dodd-Frank

American Banker | 'Take Your Lawmaker to Work' Puts New Twist on Lobbying for Reg Relief

Washington Times | Low unemployment rate obscures decline in Americans seeking work

Bloomberg | Brainard Says Rules Probably Have a Role in Liquidity Volatility

MarketWatch | Lew Unwilling to Declare Too-Big-To-Fail is Over
Posted by Staff on June 26, 2015
Committee Seeks Accountability for Discrimination and Retaliation at the CFPB

On Thursday the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing to examine new evidence that discrimination and retaliation against employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continue. The Committee began its investigation into these allegations in April 2014. Since then, several whistleblowers have come forward to allege CFPB managers have created a toxic workplace. Despite promises last year from CFPB Director Richard Cordray that this unacceptable and offensive behavior at the CFPB would stop, two whistleblowers testified on Thursday that discrimination and retaliation have gotten worse during the past year.

Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI) said in his opening statement, "This Committee has spent two years and more than five Congressional hearings giving a voice to the victims of abusive, unfair and unlawful discriminatory behavior of CFPB managers. We are here again today because their messages have clearly not been heard. There is mounting evidence that not only does the agency still have a huge problem with managers discriminating against employees based on race, age, gender, and sexual orientation, but CFPB leadership refuses to take meaningful action to prevent this behavior and protect its employees."

Both witnesses testified that they believed CFPB Director Richard Cordray did not take these issues seriously.

Committee members emphasized discrimination and retaliation must end, and there must be accountability at the CFPB.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) remarked, "In the private sector, when there are issues that are coming up on discrimination, there will be fines, there will be penalties, and there will be prescriptive measures to be able to address it. Yet apparently from what you are testifying here today, the government is not applying the same rules to itself that it expects, may not achieve, but expects out of the private sector."

Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) said change is needed at the CFPB.

"How can an agency that is unable and unwilling to govern itself be entrusted to protect the American people and, frankly, make sound decisions about how it pursues its own mission?” she asked. “Perhaps most disturbing to me is that despite all the publicity this issue has received and all the previous congressional hearings, overwhelming evidence indicates this culture of discrimination and intimidation within the CFPB has only been growing worse. It’s clear to me that reform of the CFPB is badly needed," she said.

Task Force Examines Security of U.S. Financial Sector

The Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing held its third hearing on Wednesday where it evaluated the security of the U.S. financial sector. At the hearing, the Task Force discussed the financial sector’s vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks as well as how terrorist organizations and criminal groups are using shell companies to launder money and fund their activities.

In his opening statement, Chairman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) voiced concerns about the increasing number, size and damaging effects of recent cyber-attacks. “In the past several years, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of cyber-related attacks on U.S. businesses and government agencies launched by state and non-state actors alike. This is attributed to the fact that such attacks cost very little to carry out, but have potential to cause severe problems and inflict great cost on the victim attempting to carry out the defense. The U.S. financial sector is too important for this task force to overlook when seeking to address the nexus of terrorism and finance. The continued innovation and evolution by our enemies highlights the importance of this body’s role in the fight against terror. The United States must do better when defending our financial system and addressing the threats operating within it. The risk is too great to ignore. “

Vice Chairman Robert Pittenger (R-NC) echoed these sentiments. “Recent reports from the State Department and the Treasury Department have further highlighted the priority we must place on our counter-terrorist financing efforts. The 2014 State Department country reports on terrorism make it clear that terrorism is becoming more prevalent. The number of attacks increased by 35%. There were 3,000 more attacks in 2014 than in 2013. The fatalities increased 81%, to 32,727 deaths in 2014. The National Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment shows that while we have made progress in undermining terrorist financing, there’s still vulnerabilities in our system and more can be done.”

John W. Carlson, the Chief of Staff at the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, shared his view on the current threat faced by the United States today. “The current cyber threat environment continues to evolve and intensify. Each day, cyber risk grows as attacks increase in number, pace, and complexity. Our members constantly adapt to this changing threat environment. We are no longer in the days wherein the threat was confined to individual hacktivists and fraudsters. We are now in an era of attacks by not only organized crime syndicates, but also nation-states and entities affiliated with terrorist operations.”


Rep. Sean Duffy | Accountability at the CFPB

The Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin), who has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to reform the CFPB. In March, Duffy introduced a comprehensive package to reform the Bureau, which included proposals to replace the Bureau's director, Richard Cordray, with a bipartisan five-member board; and a proposal to make the Bureau subject to the regular Congressional appropriations process.

Weekend Must Reads

Forbes | Congress Should Reign In Rogue CFPB

That’s not to say that all regulations are bad and consumers tend to support reasonable regulations, ones that make sense, such as regulations that protect people from food that will make them sick or protect them from a dangerous product. They tend to draw the line when regulations that are purported to help them in the name of consumer protection, make things more challenging if not out right difficult for them by prohibiting access to services or in this case capital.

Investor's Business Daily | The New American Dream Under Obama: Renting

The heavy federal hand in the housing market has been a disaster. Despite spending more than $13,000 for every household, Washington has record low homeownership to show for it, even among the middle class.

Hoover Daily Report | How the U.S. Can Return to 4% Growth

Economic growth in real terms is averaging a meager 2.2% annual rate in the 23 quarters since the recession’s trough in June 2009. The consensus forecast of about 1% growth for the first half of this year offers little solace. Americans need not be resigned to such a dim fate.

    In the News

American Banker | CFPB Civil Rights Officer Says Agency Makes 'Mockery' of Process

Housing Wire | CFPB employees: Workplace discrimination getting worse, leadership absent

Politico Pro | Racial tension erupts at House hearing on discrimination at CFPB

American Banker | Dems' Defense of CFPB: Let's Talk About Something Else

The Hill | Dems accuse GOP of playing race card in contentious hearing

Housing Wire | Whistleblowers to testify on alleged discrimination at CFPB

American Banker | CFPB 'Whistleblowers' to Air Bias Claims Before Lawmakers

The Hill | Yellen pushes back on GOP 'obstruction' claims
Posted by Staff on June 19, 2015
Washington Policies Like Dodd-Frank Threaten U.S. Financial Stability

Members of the Committee on Thursday questioned Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on the threats posed to America’s financial stability by misguided government policies, including the Dodd-Frank Act.

The most recent annual report issued by the Dodd-Frank-created Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) identifies several threats to financial stability that are the direct result of these policies.  However, “it conspicuously omits any references to specific government policies or agencies as helping cause the systemic risks it identifies,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

“FSOC simply refuses to look in the mirror,” he said.  “Mr. Secretary, your council and the rest of Washington needs to awaken to this obvious truth:  when it comes to systemic risk, Washington is a large part of the problem.”

Not only does FSOC fail to identify the Washington sources of these threats, it ignores other key threats to our financial stability, such as the nation’s $18 trillion – and growing – national debt.

CBO points out the debt is a problem for our economy, and yet your report does nothing, says nothing about it.  And you are supposed to be an agency that points out these problems," Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said.

"The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond recently reported that 60 percent of the financial system’s liabilities are backed by taxpayers. This report directly contradicts claims by Secretary Lew and the Administration that the Dodd-Frank Act ended ‘too big to fail’ – a stated objective of the Dodd-Frank Act - and that American taxpayers will never again have to foot the bill for bailouts," said Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA).

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) pointed out that FSOC’s deeply flawed process for designating so-called “non-bank SIFIs” further entrenches another threat to our financial stability:  Too Big to Fail.

To date, FSOC has designated four non-bank financial companies as systemically important financial institutions, or SIFIs, essentially signaling to market participants that the government considers them Too Big to Fail. As a result, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker stated that shareholders and creditors of those firms can expect the government to shield them from losses during periods of distress, ultimately putting the taxpayer on the hook for a future potential bailout,” she said.

A Cyber Attack Every 34 Seconds

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday to continue the Committee’s ongoing efforts to combat cyber threats to consumers and the financial sector.

Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI) said that while the motivations behind cyber attacks may vary, “there remains one constant. They intend to hurt America and our interests. Not only are they targeting the critical infrastructure of our country, like banks, power grids, food supplies, but they also pose a much graver threat directly to the citizens of the United States."

Witnesses called by the Subcommittee shed light on the prevalence of cyber threats to the financial sector.  Frank Cilluffo, Associate Vice President of the George Washington University and the Director for the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said one major U.S. bank faced 30,000 cyber attacks just last week.  “This amounts to an attack every 34 seconds each and every day.  And these are just the attacks that the bank actually knows about,” he told the Subcommittee.

Michael Madon of RedOwl Analytics and an advisor to the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, called for a more pro-active stance by the federal government in fighting cyber attacks. "It is clear from watching these attacks dramatically increase in both frequency and damage, our nation's current defensive posture is simply not sufficient to address the threat. We need to have a more pro-active approach, one that shifts the paradigm away from defense to offense."

Subcommittee Reviews Economic Growth Proposals

Building on the success of the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) has been identifying legal, regulatory and market impediments to capital formation, particularly for small and medium-capitalized companies.  On Tuesday, the Subcommittee continued its work with a hearing on the Small Business Credit Availability Act and the Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act.

The Small Business Credit Availabiltiy Act, sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), is geared toward updating regulation of Business Development Companies.  “We've heard that in other hearings BDCs have played an increasingly important role in our economy," said Chairman Garrett.

The Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act, sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), would allow more Americans to have the opportunities to secure their financial future," said Chairman Garrett.

at the hearing spoke about the importance of modernizing the regulation of BDCs and expanding the pool of investment opportunities.

Vincent D. Foster of Main Street Capital
said, "Modernizing BDC regulations will help support American jobs and foster economic growth by improving access to the public capital markets for BDCs. It will also free up significant resources at the SEC, which can be utilized more effectively to protect investors."

"With the JOBS Act, Congress helped to modernize existing regulations and establish new systems to provide the opportunities to allow Emerging Growth Companies (EGCs) to grow into public companies," said Tom Quaadman with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. "The proposals before us today continue that tradition and are important as they help small and mid-size businesses continue on the path to becoming EGCs."

For further information on these legislative proposals, click here.

Impact of the IMF:  Economic Stability or Moral Hazard?

Members of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee on Thursday expressed concerns that the IMF, in providing public funds to ease current financial problems in Europe is, in effect, transferring the cost of Europe’s past risky lending practices to the American public at large and to commercial banks that were more conservative in selecting their loan portfolios.

“The use of the IMF as a backstop for advanced European countries calls into question, in my mind, whether this institution has become an enabling crutch instead of a helping hand,” Subcommittee Chairman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) said.


Rep. Randy Neugebauer | Lawmaker Calls Round Table on Bond Trading Challenges

A top lawmaker is inviting a bevy of Wall Street regulators and large financial institutions to a round table next month to discuss how regulations may be contributing to challenges in bond trading, the latest sign that officials are paying increased attention to the issue in Washington.

Weekend Must Reads

Washington Post | Obama wants to reengineer your neighborhood

This is what you get when you put a community organize in the White House – he tries to reorganize your community from Washington. The answer is not to force local governments to build affordable housing in affluent communities. The answer is to restore upward mobility in the United States so that more people can afford housing in affluent communities.

Real Clear Markets | The U.S. Is Defined By Expanding Government, Retreating Economy

Where once there was a limited government and unlimited economy, today there is a comparatively unlimited government and a limited economy. Following this progression, at what point do we begin to seriously measure, regulate and mitigate the impact of government's increasingly destructive impact upon the economy?

Wall Street Journal | Washington’s Illegal Bailout

Fed officials are upset that Congress wants to rein in their emergency and regulatory powers. Congress might have less cause to act if the Fed showed more respect for the law.

    On the Horizon 

June 24, 2015 2:00 p.m.
Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Hearing

"Evaluating the Security of the U.S. Financial Sector"

June 25, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing

"Examining Continuing Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"

  In the News

Wall Street Journal | House Committee Rejects Yellen’s Reason for Not Complying With Subpoena

Bloomberg | Hensarling Accuses Fed of Willful Obstruction of Leak Probe

American Banker | CFPB Grapples with Spike in Employee Bias Complaints

The Hill | Hensarling accuses Fed of 'willful obstruction' in leak probe

Politico | HUD aid for its own workers includes $100k move

HousingWire | TRID, Discrimination and Accountability: The Appalling CFPB Double Standard

Wall Street Journal | Small Firms Aim to Raise Capital More Easily Under New Rules

MarketWatch | Lew, Hensarling Spar Over Bond Market Liquidity

Bloomberg | Risk Panel Will Divulge Why AIG, MetLife Are Too Big to Fail

Washington Times | Obama-Elizabeth Warren payday lender rules slammed by Florida Democrats

Posted by Staff on June 12, 2015
Committee Questions HUD Secretary on Ineffectiveness of Agency After 50 Years

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created 50 years ago to serve as a main weapon in the “War on Poverty” and the agency has received more than $1.6 trillion in annual appropriations over its lifetime.  On Thursday, members of the Financial Services Committee questioned HUD Secretary Julian Castro on his agency’s failure to achieve measurable results.

“By nearly every official measure, poverty and its consequences are as bad as they were 50 years ago.  The poverty rate today is essentially unchanged from when HUD was founded,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).  "If we truly care about the least of these among us, we can no longer measure success by the number of dollars appropriated to HUD. That should be obvious. Instead, success must be measured in the number of our fellow citizens who rise from lives of poverty and dependency to lives of hope, self-sufficiency, and pride. That’s true success."

Throughout the hearing, members expressed concerns that HUD has created a bureaucratic, complex tangle of programs that foster dependency rather than promote economic freedom and provide a roadmap out of poverty.

"Our aspirations need to be much higher. Our expectations are far too low. The expectation should be that success is measured not just by how many people we're moving into dependency on the department but how many people we are moving out of dependency," said Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).

Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) told Secretary Castro, “Every program that we have aimed at poverty should be aimed at making poverty temporary, not tolerable.”

Subcommittee Reviews More Proposals to Promote Financial Independence and Consumer Choice

The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee continued its review of legislative proposals aimed at helping Americans achieve financial independence and preserving consumer choice.

Subcommittee Chairman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) said the hearing was another “opportunity for members to continue the discussion of regulatory relief for community financial institutions and the protection of consumer financial choice. Many members here today have put in a tremendous amount of work to build bipartisan coalitions for their legislation."

The hearing covered 12 bills designed to reduce regulatory burdens and streamline regulatory compliance, ensuring consumers have greater access to the financial services they want and need.

Witness Hester Peirce from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University testified how financial regulation needs to be revisited and updated to allow for well-functioning markets. "A well-functioning market enables people who need financing to obtain it efficiently and at a competitive price,” she said.  “Market forces reward financial companies that serve consumers well and discipline firms that fail to provide products and services in a form and at a price that consumers want."


Rep. Mia Love | VIDEO: Affordable Housing Coming To a Neighborhood Near You?

The Fox Business Network featured Rep. Love’s questioning of HUD Secretary Castro from Thursday’s hearing before the House Financial Services Committee.

Weekend Must Reads

The Hill | Ex-Im acting inspector general: Deal could cost taxpayers $150 million

The Export-Import Bank’s acting inspector general testified to Congress on Thursday that the bank could lose $150 million off a deal it financed with an Australian company that went bankrupt in April.

American Banker | Basel III Pulls the Rug Out from Community Banks

Similarities between Volcker and Basel are striking: Both rules weren't intended for community banks, but have had a disproportionate impact on hometown institutions.

Investor's Business Daily | Regulations Could Top Taxes As Enemy Of Small Business

For a large business, complying with regulations is often just a minor cost of doing business. For a small business, regulatory compliance can be an enterprise-killer.

    On the Horizon 

June 16, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Hearing
"A Global Perspective on Cyber Threats"

June 17, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Hearing "The Annual Report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council"

June 17, 2015 2:00 p.m.
Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee Hearing
“The Impact of the International Monetary Fund: Economic Stability or Moral Hazard?”

June 16, 2015 2:00 p.m.
Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee Hearing

"Legislative Proposals to Modernize Business Development Companies and Expand Investment Opportunities"

  In the News

Washington Free Beacon | HUD Has Spent $1.6 Trillion Since Its Creation

National Mortgage Professional Magazine | Rep. Royce Calls Out Castro on GSE Reform 

Wall Street Journal | Dodd-Frank Turns Five

American Banker | Lawmakers Spar Over TRID 'Grace Period'

Wall Street Journal | Yellen: Fed Was Advised Against Fully Complying With Subpoena on Leak Probe

Bloomberg | Bill to Change CFPB Governance Structure Draws Support, Criticism at House Hearing

Wall Street Journal | Kill the Export-Import Bank 

CNBC | Chart: What’s the real unemployment rate?

American Banker | Mortgage Lenders Continue Push for TRID 'Grace Period'

Wall Street Journal | SF Fed Sees Involuntary Part-Time Workers Remaining Elevated

New York Times | Mergers Might Not Signal Optimism

The Maine Wire | Poliquin: The Export-Import Bank Must Be Held Accountable

CNBC | How the Fed screwed up the bond market

Posted by on June 09, 2015
FACT: Two Russian firms targeted with U.S. sanctions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were approved for more than $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer-subsidized financing from the Export-Import Bank.

According to articles in the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily, one of these Russian state-owned firms, Vnesheconombank, maintains a close business relationship with a major Russian arms dealer responsible for more than 80% of Russia’s weapon exports, including shipments to Syria.


Posted by Staff on June 05, 2015
Subcommittee Conducts Oversight on Hurricane Sandy Claims

The need to reform the National Flood Insurance Program and allegations that Hurricane Sandy victims were cheated out of flood insurance claims due to bogus home inspection reports were the focus of a hearing on Tuesday held by the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), heard testimony from the FEMA official in charge of the nation’s flood insurance program. He testified that more than 2,000 court cases have been filed by Sandy victims, many of which allege insurance companies and inspectors conspired to deny or underpay flood insurance claims.

“FEMA acted, but only after public prodding, and today is in the midst of a significant legal battle,” said Chairman Luetkemeyer. “Still, no one has been able to tell Congress or the public why these engineering firms operated in the fraudulent manner in which they are believed to have done. One question we must examine is whether or not perverse incentives exist within the National Flood Insurance Program.”

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) said during the hearing that he personally helped his constituents dig out of the rubble of Hurricane Sandy. “But after enduring the storm and the cleanup, the people of New Jersey had to face yet another challenge – doctored flood insurance claims that threatened their ability to rebuild. This is simply unacceptable. Frankly, it is maddening and I hope that we can all work together to ensure that victims are not cheated from what they are rightfully due,” he said.

Witnesses Testify That Ex-Im Harms American Jobs

Witnesses appearing before the committee at a hearing on the Export-Import Bank on Wednesday testified that Ex-Im harms some American jobs, tilts the playing field against some U.S. companies and has problems with corruption.

“We still believe that the Bank’s policy of subsidizing our foreign competitors tilts that playing field, harming U.S. companies and their workers,” said Richard Hirst, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for Delta Air Lines.

A $694 million direct loan from Ex-Im for an iron ore project in Australia is one reason why more than 1,200 American workers at domestic iron ore operations “are currently on layoff or have been notified of a coming layoff,” said Clifford Smith, Executive Vice President of Cliffs Natural Resources. The company is America’s largest producer of iron ore pellets for steelmaking and has five major mines in Minnesota and Michigan.

Ex-Im’s Deputy Inspector General Michael McCarthy testified that since the Office of Inspector General’s latest semiannual report was filed in March, one former Bank employee pleaded guilty to accepting $78,000 in bribes and another individual was sentenced to 41 months in prison for defrauding the Bank. At an earlier hearing this year, McCarthy said future indictments surrounding Ex-Im’s activities are possible.

This week, McCarthy also testified that Ex-Im has not fully complied with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010.

"We found Ex-Im Bank’s risk assessment for FY 2014 reporting provided limited insight into the actual risk of significant improper payments. As a result, the Bank’s improper payment reporting is incomplete and the true risk of significant improper payments is unknown," he testified.

Speaking to Ex-Im Chairman and President Fred Hochberg at the hearing, Rep. Bruice Poliquin (R-ME) wondered “how I can go back to the people I represent with this trail of mismanagement – ongoing mismanagement – and vote to reauthorize your bank?”


Rep. French Hill | Banker Returns to D.C. to Take on CFPB, Regulatory Red Tape

His career has "always had at its core finance, it's always had at its core the private sector, and then I've always just been pretty passionate about public policy," the freshman congressman told American Banker in a recent interview. Hill, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said he's now focused on removing duplicative and unnecessary regulation for the financial industry, calling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "a redundant regulatory initiative."

Weekend Must Reads

Wall Street Journal | An Open Letter to Republicans on the Ex-Im Bank

If Republicans can’t stand up to corporate interests in this skirmish, how will we ever stand up to the myriad special interests warring against adoption of a simplified, pro-growth tax code? How will we earn the moral authority to reform the social welfare state unless we first reform the corporate welfare state? Let the Democrats own corporate welfare by themselves.

Investor's Business Daily | As Obama's Economy Falls, White House Excuses Boom

It's true that in recent years, growth in Q1 has tended to be subpar. But the problem isn't a lack of proper seasonal adjustment; it's that growth under Obama has been so tepid that even the slightest bump can knock it off stride. Just look at the numbers.

CNBC | Why the Fed is wrong. Again

The Federal Reserve has fueled financial bubbles and exacerbated economic problems before, and it is doing it now. In the past 15 years, we have seen what can happen when the Fed underestimates the risks of rising asset prices and maintains "accommodative" monetary conditions for too long. Investors should proceed with caution.

    On the Horizon 

June 11, 2015 10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Hearing

"The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development"

June 11, 2015 2:00 p.m.
Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Hearing

"Examining Legislative Proposals to Preserve Consumer Choice and Financial Independence"

  In the News

Asbury Park Press | FEMA: Government, insurers let down Sandy victims | FEMA official: Government let Hurricane Sandy victims down

NY Newsday | Outgoing Flood Insurance Chief Says Program ‘Lacks Adequate Governance

Bloomberg | Republicans Order Records in New Attack on FSOC Transparency

Daily Caller | EXCLUSIVE: Obama Consumer Official Leaves Amid Charges He Helped Create ‘Toxic Workplace'

Newnan Times-Herald | Westmoreland Takes Tour of InComm Facility

Daily Signal | House Moves to Stop Operation Choke Point


Posted by on June 03, 2015

This morning the House Financial Services Committee released its latest video:  Ex-Im By the Numbers.  The 50-second video includes information about the $112 billion in taxpayer money Ex-Im puts at risk, that 99 percent of U.S. exports are successful without Ex-Im, and figures on the investigations, charges, arrests and amount of prison time associated with corruption at Ex-Im.  The video is being released shortly before the committee’s third hearing of the year on the Export-Import Bank, which starts at 10 a.m. Eastern time. 
Posted by Staff on May 22, 2015
Committee Passes 13 Jobs Bills

The committee passed 13 bills on Wednesday to help Main Street businesses gain access to the capital they need to grow and create jobs. 

"We still have millions and millions of our fellow countrymen, hardworking moderate-income taxpayers, who find themselves with stagnant to lower paychecks; bank accounts that are less than before the great economic crisis -- and they need more jobs, better jobs, and you can’t have more and better jobs without more and better capital formation,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

By passing the JOBS Act in 2012, Congress took an important bipartisan step toward easing the regulatory burden on small businesses and startups seeking access to capital markets.  However, more needs to be done to eliminate and streamline the regulations that make it difficult for them to open their doors and create jobs.

For more information about the 13 bills approved by the committee, click here.

Subcommittee Examines How the Financial Sector Addresses Cyber Threats

The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), held a hearing on Tuesday to focus on how to protect financial institutions and consumers’ financial data from cyberattacks

"We should all remember that no single institution or system is 100 percent protected from cyberattacks. The sector faces threats posed by a growing array of cyber criminals, nation-state actors, and terrorist organizations," said Chairman Neugebauer.

The U.S. financial sector is a critical asset and part of the nation’s infrastructure.  A broad-scale cyberattack that disrupts financial markets or payment system could bring enormous harm to our economy.

Because cyber threats against the financial sector are constantly evolving, subcommittee members discussed the importance of information sharing – both within the financial sector and between the financial sector and the federal government.  Sharing information about threats and vulnerabilities would contribute to  the early warning of threats and likely attacks.

Subcommittee Conducts Oversight of Rural Housing Service

The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), convened a hearing on Tuesday to review the Rural Housing Service's (RHS) budget, operations and overall performance.

"Like many of my colleagues, I represent a rural area. My hometown has 336 residents. It’s a place where it takes two jobs to make a living, and where the incredible benefits of living in rural America far outweigh the challenges," said Chairman Luetkemeyer. "The status quo simply isn’t acceptable. Rural Americans deserve more. RHS should heed suggestions made by GAO [Government Accountability Office] and increase interagency collaboration, and consider consolidation where appropriate."

Subcommittee Members expressed their concerns regarding the effectiveness of RHS programs and their impact on American families living in rural communities.

"If we're moving people from dependency on the government to independence, self-sufficiency, that to me is success. That would be a program I would be interested in supporting," said Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).

Task Forces Dives into Links Between Terrorism, Crime and Corruption

The Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, chaired by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), held a hearing on Thursday to listen to testimony from experts on the links between terrorism, crime, and corruption.

Although terrorist organizations and criminal actors have different motives in their quest for finances, these groups may cooperate with each other in order to achieve their own objective. Beyond individual anecdotes and case studies, a 2014 network analysis by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point suggests that criminal and terrorist groups may be highly interconnected.

"Terrorist groups have become entwined with trans-national criminal syndicates or, in some cases, evolving into the role themselves - engaging in criminal activities which yield greater profits than simply relying on state sponsorship or big pocket donors. These activities range from, but are not limited to, corruption, drug trafficking, human smuggling and extortion," said Chairman Fitzpatrick. "It is this type of connection - the intersection between terrorism, crime and corruption – that today’s hearing will focus on, including current techniques being used by these groups, effectiveness of the current U.S. policy in combatting them, and where these tactics can be improved upon."

One of the hearing’s witnesses, Professor Celina Realuyo, testified that “financial intelligence and investigative tools like ‘following the money trail’ are instrumental to better understand, detect, disrupt and dismantle these illicit networks of terrorism, crime and corruption. Tracking how terrorists and criminals raise, move, store and use money has been instrumental in degrading and defeating groups such as Al Qaeda Core, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the FARC in Colombia.”


Rep. Dennis Ross | Operation Targets Legal Businesses

Whether you utilize any of the targeted businesses or not, think about how future administrations could implement similar programs that "choke off" other forms of business. Where does it stop? Legitimate businesses rely on their banks to grow, hire more employees, pay taxes and provide basic services and products vital to our communities. Moving forward, as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I will continue to fight to end Operation Choke Point.

Weekend Must Reads

Wall Street Journal | Government Warns of Systemic Risks It Created

Taxpayers, you’ve been getting a bargain from the regulators who sit on the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council. You might have thought you were paying them simply to identify risks in the financial system. But it turns out they’ve been creating them too. And you’re getting this additional service at no extra charge—at least until the next financial crisis and bailout.

The Weekly Standard | Mortgage Mess

The answer to the financial crisis may have been hidden in plain sight, but the failure to see it was willful. A powerful coalition of interest groups dominated housing policy for a generation, and they still do—despite the damage that policy caused in the Great Recession.

Fortune | Jeb Hensarling takes a swing at corporate welfare

People feel constrained. The regulatory burden, as you know, can fall disproportionately on small businesses. Financial regulators have gone from under-reacting to over-reacting. I have an 11-year-old and sometimes when every teacher gives you homework on the same night, you just feel overwhelmed. And that’s what we’re seeing now, particularly with our community institutions. The sheer volume, complexity, and weight of regulatory costs just drags them down.

Forbes | If You Like Your Financial Adviser, You Should Be Able To Keep Your Financial Adviser

The substantive flaws go on, but it is important to acknowledge that there are politics in play here. The administration withdrew this rule because it was too politically sensitive prior to the 2012 election. Now, they are rolling it out with a progressive senator known for bashing Wall Street.

The Hill | Reform regulation to let more banks serve Main Street

But there has been one area of bipartisan agreement: financial regulation should not stifle banks’ ability to deliver credit to small and medium-sized business located on Main Streets in communities all across the U.S. These are the firms that are critical to economic growth and the source of the most of the new job creation in the U.S.

  In the News

Bloomberg | Committee Clears Package of 13 Bills, Most to Ease Parts of JOBS Act, Dodd-Frank

Politico Pro | 13 SEC Bills Advance in House

Augusta Free Press | Financial Services Committee approves two Robert Hurt bills

MinnPost | Emmer named to House Financial Services Committee

Bucks County Courier Times | Terrorists Buying Our Used Cars, Analyst Tells Congress

Wall Street Journal | Republicans Ask Fed’s Yellen to Testify Four Times More a Year

Washington Post | Small businesses in Washington and around the country are rushing to go public. Here’s why.

MPBN News | Poliquin Expresses Concerns About Terrorism Financing

Associated Press | Lawmaker Subpoenas Fed, Seeking Evidence of a Leak
Posted by on May 19, 2015
FACT: 10 large corporations receive nearly two-thirds of Ex-Im’s financial assistance.