Mick Mulvaney Wonders If Wells Fargo Has Suffered Enough
In September 2016, Wells Fargo admitted that its cutthroat culture and hyperrealistic sales goals led employees to open some 2 million fake bank and credit-card accounts in customers’ names without said customers’ permission, a number the bank has now adjusted to roughly 3.5 million. In July, it admitted to charging 800,000 people for auto-insurance they didn’t need, which may have resulted in 20,000 wrongful repossessions. In August, it agreed to pay $108 million to settle allegations that it charged military veterans hidden fees to refinance their mortgages. And last month, it announced that its foreign-exchange business was under “new management” around the same time bankers in its forex operation were revealed to have overcharged hundreds of clients. In short, Wells is the Usain Bolt of ripping off customers. As such, it has also become a prime example of the very real need for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But now that the guy in charge of the agency is the same one who once co-sponsored legislation to abolish it, the bank can potentially rest much easier.
Reuters reports that Mick Mulvaney, who was named acting director of the C.F.P.B. last week despite the fact that 1) he is gainfully employed as White House Budget Director, and 2) he despises everything it stands for, is currently reviewing whether Wells Fargo should have to pay millions of dollars over alleged mortgage-lender abuse. Back in October, Wells said it would issue refunds to approximately 100,000 homebuyers who were wrongly charged fees to lock in fixed-rate loans between between September 2013 and February 2017, and in November, the C.F.P.B. set settlement terms that were approved by Obama-era appointee Richard Cordray. According to Reuters, that proposal “envisions a Wells Fargo payout of tens of millions of dollars.” Though the conclusions of Mulvaney’s review are still unclear, the fact that he once called the bureau a “sick, sad joke” likely does not bode well for Wells customers hoping to receive payouts.
Mulvaney’s installation at the C.F.P.B. is part of movement by Team Trump to ease up on Wall Street and the banking industry, which they believe has been treated just so, so unfairly. On the campaign trail, Trump told voters, “I know Wall Street. I know the people on Wall Street. . . . Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us. I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder.” But as The New York Times recently noted, Treasury Department officials are working to help firms to avoid being hit with the dreaded “too big to fail” tag, which results in strong oversight. __ Randal Quarles,__ regulatory chief of the Federal Reserve, told bankers that “changing the tenor of supervision will probably . . . be the biggest part of what it is that I do.” A day later, Keith Noreika, the acting comptroller of the currency whom the White House installed via a brazen backdoor move, criticized Obama-era officials for holding banks to lofty standards. In September, Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief James McDonald announced that his agency would “increasingly look to banks and other financial institutions to come clean on their own about misconduct and problems in the market.” And in what must be a total coincidence, the monetary penalties imposed by the three main groups that police Wall Street have declined sharply in the first half of the year versus “similar stretches” in previous times.
Last week, Mulvaney said that he would “try and limit as much as we can what the C.F.P.B. does to sort of interfere with capitalism and with the financial services market.” That may not be great news for those Wells Fargo has made a cottage industry of ripping off, but for the San Fransisco bank, it’s Christmas come early!
Tech firms are hiring models to up the “live women” quota at holiday parties
In a year in which Silicon Valley (and Hollywood, and Washington, and the media) have been plagued with stories of sexual harassment by men who think it’s appropriate to, for instance, walk around naked in front of their colleagues, a number of tech firms have reportedly decided that no holiday party would be complete without some attractive models paid between $50 and $200 an hour to chat up attendees. If that sounds not just ill-advised but also sad and pathetic, don’t worry, they’ve got a plan:
[One] company . . . has handpicked the models based on photos, made them sign nondisclosure agreements, and given them names of employees to pretend they’re friends with, in case anyone asks why he’s never seen them around the foosball table.
“The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,” says Farnaz Kermaani, who’s sending models to seven tech parties in the same weekend.
Harold Ford Jr. is now an ex-Morgan Stanley employee
The former congressman has parted ways with the bank following an accusation by a woman who knew Ford in a professional capacity that he “harassed, intimidated and grabbed her in an incident several years ago.” The firm made its decision after a probe by human resources, which also interviewed the woman. While the bank said in a statement that Ford was “terminated for conduct inconsistent with our values and in violation of our policies,” Ford claimed to Bloomberg that the incident “simply did not happen,” writing in an e-mail, “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He went on:
“Having drinks and dinner for work is part of my job, and all of my outreach to the news reporter making these false allegations was professional and at the direction of my firm for business purposes. I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue. False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers. I will now be bringing legal action against the reporter who has made these false claims about me as well as Morgan Stanley for improper termination.”
Republican tax writers have good news for Amazon
They may already be talking about slashing “entitlements” like Social Security and welfare to pay for the bill they’re about to pass, but on the bright side . . .
While public support for President Donald Trump’s tax plan remains low, there’s reason for Amazon to feel giddy about it: an estimated $2 billion in tax savings over the next two years.
That’s based on a report by financial research firm Cowen & Co., which estimates Amazon will save $723 million in 2018 and $1.3 billion in 2019 under the proposed tax bill. In total, Amazon’s earnings could see a 24% boost in each of the next two years, Cowen wrote in the note.
For comparison, Amazon is expected to make roughly $2.1 billion in net income this year alone, according to FactSet.
Bitcoin Surges Despite “Dante’s Inferno” Warning (Guardian)
Goldman Traders Are Caught Up in a Bizarre, Tense Hedge-Fund Battle (Bloomberg)
House passes spending bill, first step in avoiding government shutdown (CNBC)
Truck Full of C.F.A. Exams Hijacked in Rio Crime Wave (Bloomberg)
Fed Plans to Disclose More About Big-Bank Stress Tests (W.S.J)
These Harvard Business Grads Are Putting Politics Above Profits (W.S.J.)
They Gave Her a $3.8 Million Bonus—and Then the Boot (Bloomberg)
Ex-N.F.L. Player Gets 40 Years for Running $10M Fraud Scheme (AP)
After Decades of Hints, Warren Buffett’s Heir May Now Be More Apparent (Bloomberg)
Mystery Buyer of $450 Million Salvator Mundi Was a Saudi Prince (NYT)
via Vanity Fair http://bit.ly/2xvuIXg
December 7, 2017 at 04:07PM