Americans for Financial Reform is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system.

New OCC Rule Protecting Predatory Lenders Could Face Legal Challenge

The regulator of the nation’s largest banks has finalized a rule that allows predatory lenders to do an end-run around state interest rate caps, exposing people to loans in excess of 100% APR that violate state rate limits. Merely by putting a bank’s name on the fine print of the paperwork, predatory lenders could claim that the loan is a bank loan exempt from state rate caps.

Event: Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Panel

On Oct. 19, AFR Executive Director Lisa Donner participated in a virtual conference organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Entitled “Empowering the public to assess large bank resiliency, the conference brought together leading experts to bank transparency to discuss how to maintain and improve transparency of the conditions of major banks.

Letters to Regulators: Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Regarding the Bank Merger Competitive Review Guidelines.

Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund submitted a comment letter asking the Department of Justice to protect the public interest from ever larger banks exercising market power to impose higher costs on consumers, reduce the volume or quality of banking services, and from becoming so large that they pose a risk to the entire financial system and real economy.

Policy Memo: Creating a Public Investment Bank

Reproduced and linked below is an AFR Education Fund memo on issues around the design of a national public investment bank that would be a modernized successor to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Link to pdf document: AFREF policy memo on public investment bank – working

Memo: Sun Capital Case Study of Private Equity Looting

Today, private equity controls some 8,000 companies in the United States, more than twice as many companies as are publicly traded on U.S. stock markets. Private equity firms manage more than $4 trillion in U.S. assets and now own companies that collectively employ nearly 9 million American workers.

Like many PE firms, Sun Capital Partners often buys up existing businesses, loots their assets, squeezes workers, decimates jobs through layoffs and bankruptcy, and threatens workers’ retirement benefits. 

Blog Post: Wall Street Money in 2020 Elections

Wall Street is pumping tremendous sums of money into the 2020 elections, and there are some notable trends regarding who is getting the money and who, within the financial services industry, is contributing this cycle. At the presidential level, Wall Street is splitting its contributions close to evenly, or maybe slightly favoring Biden over Trump. At the same time, it is fairly clear that Wall Street is investing in keeping the Senate in Republican hands.

Letter to Regulators: Letter to the Department of Labor urging it to withdraw a proposal that would impose new burdens and costs on retirement plans.

AFREF submitted a letter to the Department of Labor urging it to withdraw a rule proposal that would impose onerous costs and process requirements on private sector retirement plans when deciding whether and how to vote on matters brought to a vote at public companies’ annual meetings. It will impose costs on retirement savers and undermine advances on corporations’ integration of environmental, social and governance factors, including those that have a material financial impact on long-term investment performance

Kraninger Lets Industry “Drive the Agenda” at CFPB Even During COVID-19 Pandemic

Kathleen Kraninger, the current director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,  told an audience of bankers at a November  2019 industry gathering that “you are really helping drive the agenda.” Unfortunately for the public and for consumer financial protection, the Kraninger agenda and the Wall Street lobby’s priorities are indeed all too similar, and that has proved true even during the COVID-19 pandemic and massive economic distress it has produced.