Reappointing Mr. Powell “would be disappointing” for those who care about Mr. Biden’s agenda to address financial regulation, climate change and racial wealth gaps, said Erik Gerding, a senior fellow at Americans for Financial Reform, a nonprofit that argues for tougher financial regulation. “Having Jerome Powell continue would just mean one less vote for sustained and healthy regulation of the banking system.”
“The nonprofits Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform have released an early copy of their new “roadmap” for climate-finance reform to The Weekly Planet. It’s a guide to what the new executive branch might do to shift the flows of capital toward greener investments.”
“Not that this will be easy. Yesterday, Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, wrote a letter to the San Francisco Fed implying that it should stop researching “climate economics,” labeling the topic “bitterly partisan.” He’s not wrong—climate change is bitterly partisan. But all of the country’s largest banks have issued climate policies nevertheless. And if it is partisan, that is because partisans fought greenhouse-gas regulation for so long that climate change has become a costly and whole-of-society issue. The financial system is where those costs come to roost. Any big problem, ignored for long enough, becomes a financial issue.”
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.
“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.
“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.”