There’s a looming student debt cliff awaiting us in 2021. With America in the teeth of the Covid-19–enabled economic downturn, lawmakers suspended federal student loan payments for 80 percent of federal student loan borrowers. This measure, which President Donald Trump extended a few weeks ago, is set to expire on New Year’s Eve, which means borrowers will ring in the new year by restarting their student loan payments in one of the worst job markets in a decade.
In The News: Seeking to Rein in Capitalism, Omidyar Is the Rare Funder Taking on Wall Street (Inside Philanthropy)
“So many fundamental decisions about how the economy works, and who it works for, and who is excluded are made through the decisions we make about finance,” [AFR Executive Director Lisa Donner] said. “There is a huge opportunity to have a transformative impact.”
“At these prices, this is not a market screaming, ‘We need help from the Fed,’” said Andrew Park, senior policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform, which advocates for tighter financial rules on Wall Street.
In the News: Trump suspends interest on all federal student loans to ease financial impact of coronavirus
“With so many facing the prospect of lost wages or lost jobs, the government can and should do more than waive interest, which is merely an economic Band-Aid on the gaping financial wound the pandemic is causing,” said Alexis Goldstein, senior policy analyst at the liberal think tank Americans for Financial Reform. “The Education Department has the authority to cancel student debt, and using it would mean both short- and medium-term economic stimulus that helps all Americans.”
Under the rule, a borrower would have to sign a notice authorizing the lender to withdraw from the account after those two consecutive failures. “If I was smart, I would only sign that if there was money in there,” says Linda Jun, a policy counsel with Americans for Financial Reform, a regulatory and consumer protection coalition. “Aside from getting charged more for a negative balance, banks close bank accounts over this stuff, you could lose access to banking entirely.”
Heather Slavkin Corzo, senior fellow at Americans for Financial Reform and director of capital market policies at the AFL-CIO: “The massive growth of private equity over the past decade means that this industry’s influence, economic and political, has mushroomed,” she says. “It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that we are all stakeholders in private equity these days, one way or another.”
It was no longer a lonely effort. Mr. Frank, a powerful committee chairman, was now an ally. So was an emerging coalition of progressive groups, labor unions and consumer advocates, known as Americans for Financial Reform. Ms. Warren sought out its leader, Heather Booth, for insight into political organizing. “She knew many of the players on the policy side,” Ms. Booth said. “What she hadn’t been experienced with were the politics.”
Private Equity Giants Converge on Manufactured Homes, a report released this year by three nonprofits—Manufactured Housing Action, the Private Equity Stakeholder Project and Americans for Financial Reform—maps this rapidly changing industry. The report notes, “The top 50 manufactured housing community owners own around 680,000 home sites. With more that 150,000 home sites, private equity firms and institutional investors now control a substantial portion of manufactured home communities.” Some of these firms have familiar names like Blackstone or Carlyle.
AFR In The News: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Top Six Dubious Accomplishments In 2018 (Talking Points Memo)
“The failure of Mulvaney’s CFPB to properly carry out the law, whether by failing to supervise companies or dropping cases that were underway is a green light for direct and immediate harm to ordinary Americans,” Carter Dougherty, communications director for Americans for Financial Reform, told TPM via email.
AFR in the News: Trump Asks SEC to Study Quarterly Earnings Requirements for Public Firms (NY Times)
“’Quarterly disclosures are very important. A lot can happen in six months, and it’s just not appropriate to reduce disclosures,’ said Marcus Stanley, the policy director for Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of foundations, unions and public interest groups that pushes for stronger financial regulation. ‘It’s just going to advantage insiders further.’”