As we approach the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Representative Ayanna Pressley sent a letter to the CEOs of the five largest banks in the U.S. — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Citigroup — calling for a financial audit report detailing the status of the racial equity pledges they made in response to the summer 2020 uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. The pledges ranged from $116 million committed by U.S. Bank to $30 billion committed by JPMorgan Chase.
Washington, D.C. – New investor protections announced today by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have the potential to curb widespread practices that have allowed Wall Street’s $25 trillion private fund industry to harvest tens of billions in fees at the expense of public pensions, retirees, and other savers – all to the advantage of some of the richest people in the world.
Alexa Philo, a senior bank policy analyst at the consumer advocacy group Americans for Financial Reform and a former examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the shift would restore needed guardrails that should have never been removed. “If the Fed says seven banks and two IHCs are going to be impacted, my reaction to that is that they should have been in those higher categories to begin with and their current categorizations are an understatement of the systemic risk they present,” Philo said.
AFREF submitted comment letters to the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) on two proposals that would strengthen its toolbox for addressing threats to financial stability, including those related to climate change, and make it easier to designate nonbank companies like asset managers and insurance companies as systemically important institutions that need enhanced regulation by the Federal Reserve Board.
The letters detail how threats to financial stability from nonbank financial institutions are growing, and it encourages FSOC to quickly strengthen and finalize its proposals to be able to respond effectively and proactively to emerging risks. Many nonbank financial institutions already face heightened stress from large climate-related shocks, including several major insurers’ recent decisions to withdraw coverage from many states and zip codes. Insurance companies, asset managers, private equity firms, and other nonbank financial institutions are also creating significant risks to the financial system through their insured or financed emissions — risks that are often forced upon other financial institutions and consumers who will struggle to manage them.
“Private equity is a 40-year-old Wall Street creation that thrives on cost-cutting, wealth extraction, short time horizons, and financial engineering,” wrote Aliya Sarbarhwal, campaigns manager for private equity at AFR. “It bought, sold, and liquidated its way through the American retail sector years ago, and is now jumping into traditional book publishing, a business that demands patience, an appetite for risky new authors and deft marketing.”
“Banks, investment firms, and other Wall Street titans have been allowed to secure a heightened level of control over the entire economy,” wrote Lisa Donner, executive director at Americans for Financial Reform. “With that control, they extract increasing amounts of wealth from workers and communities, and deploy an increasingly complex array of financial instruments and products that compound their revenue and their power.”
View or download a PDF of the letter here Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund joined the Homes Guarantee Campaign and over 300 national, state, and local organizations to call on the Federal Housing Finance Agency to require tenant protections in order to receive federal
AFREF joined Public Citizen in a comment urging PCAOB to strengthen and swiftly finalize its proposed updated audit standards around reporting noncompliance with laws and regulations and identifying risks of material misstatement in financial statements. Climate-related accounting fraud is on the rise, and many companies are misrepresenting their financial position by underestimating their asset retirement obligations and environmental liabilities, and failing to substantiate public climate commitments in their financial statements and SEC filings.
The proposed regulatory updates from PCAOB would strengthen auditors’ responsibilities to identify and report these types of misstatements and fraud and provide a significant benefit to investors by catching costly noncompliance issues early before they harm financial performance, and to the public by deterring corporate law-breaking and noncompliance.
“The bottom line is that the public has a right to more transparency and input in the decision-making process at a public institution,” wrote Annie Norman, the “Save the Post Office” campaigner at Take On Wall Street at AFR. “This requires engagement with said public — which DeJoy is actively resisting. When you put a rich, white, private-sector executive who isn’t used to public accountability and cooperation in charge of a treasured public institution, such a clash might be inevitable.”
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly announced on Thursday, July 27, a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement final components of the Basel III regulatory capital framework for Large Banking Organizations and introduce changes in response to the banking crisis of 2023.