This major crisis demands a massive and swift response, but it must focus first on health care, and then on easing the burdens on everyday people, communities, and small businesses who are hardest hit. The McConnell proposal falls far, far short of what the situation demands.
Apart from the obvious fact that this is a public health crisis and should be treated as such, we should all be immensely skeptical of any suggestion from Wall Street that it needs a bailout or any kind of assistance. We need to help people, not profits.
In The News: Financial System Faces Biggest Test Since 2008 as Coronavirus Spreads (The New York Times)
“We are in a much more fragile situation than we should be because the regulators haven’t been on the job,” said Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform. “This is a real economic crisis we’re facing.”
In August regulators issued a rule that dramatically weakened the Volcker Rule limits on direct proprietary trading by banks. Today, they have proposed new changes that would greatly weaken restrictions on banks taking risks through ownership of external funds, including venture capital funds and securitization vehicles like collateralized debt obligations.
In revising the Volcker Rule’s proprietary trading ban last year, the regulators had already relaxed one component of the limits on investment in funds, clarifying the industry’s ability to do so on behalf of clients. Backing off some of the fund restrictions will “complete the process of neutering the rule,” Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, said in a criticism of the regulators’ actions last year.
In The News: This was supposed to be the decade of tougher consumer protections. That didn’t happen. (CNBC)
“The biggest concerns that we see with the CFPB today is they are holding the hands of the payday lenders,” said Linda Jun, senior policy counsel at Americans for Financial Reform. “That means that the debt trap will continue and people will continue to lose their cars and their bank accounts as a result of the continued destruction of payday loans.”
News Release: Report Highlights Private Equity Ownership of Texas Plant as Possible Danger to Health, Environment
Following last month’s explosions at a petrochemical plant near Beaumont, Texas on the Gulf Coast, a new report draws attention to the private equity industry’s growing control of companies in this sector through a business model that may increase health, environmental, and safety risks. This financial engineering often allows private equity firms to extract wealth from the companies they purchase, but can result in intense pressure to cut costs, resulting in layoffs or reduced spending on operations that can lead to substandard products or services.
The day before Thanksgiving, a chemical plant operated by the TPC Group exploded in Port Neches, Texas spewing contaminants, forcing over 50,000 people to evacuate, and leaving the community with the lingering aftereffects of an industrial disaster. The TPC Group is owned by two private equity (PE) firms, SK Capital Partners (SK) and First Reserve. The private equity owned chemical plants in Texas held by SK Capital have a long record of environmental violations — not just the TPC Group factories but other SK Capital portfolio firms.
In The News: It’s Time for Congress to Do Something About the Economic Mess that Private Equity Giants Have Created (Business Insider)
Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz: “[A] recent study by groups including Americans for Financial Reform found that private-equity bankruptcies in the retail industry alone cost 600,000 jobs. One of those laid off, Giovanna De La Rosa, told of her experiences in this publication. The best outcome would be fewer bankruptcies, but when they happen, the welfare of workers needs to be at the top of the list, not at the bottom.”
“I wasn’t sent here to safeguard and protect profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a video from the hearing circulated by Americans for Financial Reform, “I was sent here to safeguard and protect people.”