BlackRock looks south; CFPB hits ‘abusive’ payday lender

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Wall Street Journal

Sweet home Alabama
BlackRock, Wall Street’s biggest money manager, plans to increase the number of its employees working in Atlanta to 1,000 over the next six years, from the current 15. “The push could make Atlanta BlackRock’s third largest hub after New York and San Francisco, which have roughly 3,500 and 1,500 people now. BlackRock joins other money managers in setting up hubs far from Wall Street to capture technology talent, ramp up client marketing, and reduce business costs.”

Bloomberg News

One of the first
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered payday lender Cash Express LLC to pay a $200,000 civil penalty and return $32,000 to customers because of its debt-collection practices, some of which the agency said were “abusive.”

“Experts said this is one of the first enforcement settlements filed under CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to cite ‘abusive’ violations of a consumer-protection law.” Mulvaney recently said the CFPB would provide lenders with a clearer definition of what is considered to be abusive.

Too many cooks
UBS’s plan to boost its money management business by targeting “ultrarich” Americans and Asians won’t be that easy. “The U.S. and Asia are fertile ground for this strategy. But it is a crowded field. Credit Suisse has in recent years mirrored UBS’s strategy in emphasizing wealth management. Swiss private bank Julius Baer is a big player in wealth management, too.”

A difference of opinion
Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said he supports the Federal Reserve’s plans to gradually raise interest rates. “If the data come in as I expect, I believe that some further gradual adjustment in the federal funds rate will be appropriate,” Clarida said in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, his first public comments since joining the Fed last month.

But Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, writes in a Journal opinion piece the Fed “should seize this opportunity for a pause” in raising rates “to see how the economy evolves before determining if further rate increases are necessary. With the federal-funds rate at 2% to 2.25%, monetary policy is now close to neutral, neither stimulating nor restricting the economy. Prematurely tapping the brakes could restrain wage growth and keep many Americans from participating in the economic recovery.” Kashkari, a longtime dove, currently does not have a vote on the Fed’s monetary policy committee.

Elsewhere

Another try
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors sued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in U.S. District Court in Washington challenging the OCC’s plans to issue national bank charters to financial technology firms. The state regulators say the move is unconstitutional and puts consumers and taxpayers at risk. “The CSBS and New York’s Department of Financial Services separately filed suits in 2017 while the OCC’s fintech charter was still a proposal,” American Banker reports. “But the courts dismissed that case saying it was not ripe for consideration.”

Out of the shadows
Howard Wilkinson, the British trader in Danske Bank’s Estonia branch who blew the whistle on the mammoth money laundering scandal at the Danish bank, is scheduled to testify in public next month. He is slated to appear before the Danish Parliament on November 19 and the European Parliament two days later.

New rules
Foreign banks will be allowed to set up wholly owned banks and branches in China according to draft rules issued by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Thursday. Currently, foreign banks must partner with a Chinese bank and can’t hold a majority interest.

Quotable

“Common sense and the law tell us that a nonbank is not a bank. Thus, CSBS is calling on the courts to stop the unlawful, unwarranted expansion of powers by the OCC.” — John Ryan, president and CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.


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