Banking & Finance

AOC and Warren team up to probe Treasury Secretary Mnuchin over Sears bankruptcy
Question Mnuchin's time on the Sears board, connection to CEO Eddie Lampert

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is questioning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about his ties to the bankrupt Sears. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teamed up Thursday to blast Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the bankruptcy of Sears.

The Democrats from Massachusetts and New York, respectively, are questioning Mnuchin’s actions as a member of the Sears board and his longstanding ties to Eddie Lampert, the Sears CEO who came into that role after the retailer was purchased by his hedge fund.

Retirement savings bill seeks small business buy-in
Bipartisan momentum for change comes as retirement crisis looms

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s retirement savings bill would create incentives for businesses to provide access to workplace savings plans for some of the most underserved groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday will take up what could be the most significant changes in retirement savings policy in more than a decade.

But the bill’s backers acknowledge it’s just an initial step in addressing what critics call a huge hole in Americans’ nest eggs, at a time when traditional pension plans are increasingly rare and Social Security is facing financial headwinds.

Marijuana legalization goes mainstream with first-ever forum in Capitol complex
Event highlights growing bipartisan support for banking, farming, medical and social justice bills

Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow states to craft their own cannabis policies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The cannabis industry investors, business owners and legalization advocates had met before to discuss the legal and regulatory headaches of operating in a world that’s licensed and regulated by states but illegal under federal law.

But what made those at Tuesday’s gathering describe it as a public relations milestone was the location: inside the Capitol complex.

Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have sought clarity from the Commodity Future Trading Commission on guidelines for cryptocurrencies on the futures market. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

Road ahead: Will Congress get a disaster relief deal before Memorial Day?
House and Senate will keep full schedules as budget talks continue for this week and beyond

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will join their fellow congressional leaders to discuss the budget and the need to lift the country’s debt limit with the administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The big question for the week is whether Congress will actually act on long-awaited disaster relief before lawmakers head out for Memorial Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said such a vote is on the floor agenda for this week, but as senators left Thursday afternoon for the weekend, there was still no final agreement on any bipartisan package.

FHFA head sees plan this year to change Fannie, Freddie status
Mark Calabria also wants Congress to act

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been under federal control since they accepted bailouts in 2008 during the housing market collapse. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria said he hopes to have a roadmap for ending the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the end of the year.

Speaking at a National Association of Realtors event Tuesday, Calabria said it was his job as FHFA director to develop a plan for recapitalizing and releasing the government-sponsored entities, or GSEs. The two mortgage giants have been under federal control since they accepted bailouts in 2008 in the wake of the housing market collapse.

These Senate Democrats want to ban stock trading by members of Congress
Sens. Brown and Merkley introduce legislation last week to prohibit trading in most cases

Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., left, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, want to ban stock trading by members of Congress in most cases. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Democratic senators want to prevent a recurrence of ethically dubious stock trades by members of Congress by banning them altogether.

Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio want to bar lawmakers and senior aides from buying and selling individual securities. The reality is that many members of the House and Senate do own and trade stock in publicly-traded companies.

Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders promote cap on credit card interest rates
First major legislative proposal from Ocasio-Cortez gets backing from 2020 presidential hopeful

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.,is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:25 p.m. | Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teamed up with Sen. Bernie Sanders Thursday to pitch a cap on credit card interest rates as part of new legislation.

“There is no reason a person should pay more than 15% interest in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in a tweet confirming the proposal. “It’s common sense — in fact, we had these Usury laws until the 70s.”

New York regulator’s conflict with fintech firm spills into view
Tensions grow over enforcing rules designed for traditional financial institutions

New York state regulators in April denied applications by Bittrex for licenses to run a virtual currency business and to engage in money transmission activity. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

The battle over the benefits and risks of new financial technology is escalating, in the form of a dust-up between New York state and a Seattle-based virtual currency business that, to the surprise of fintech followers, took the fight public.

The disagreement between regulators at the New York Department of Financial Services and Bittrex Inc., a cryptocurrency exchange, highlights the growing tension between fintech innovators and regulators enforcing rules designed for older, traditional financial institutions.

Why Fannie and Freddie need newer credit scoring models
Competition for FICO would foster a more sustainable housing system

The Las Vegas area was hit especially hard by the housing crisis a decade ago. Innovation and competition in mortgage credit scoring can foster a more sustainable housing system, Lockhart writes. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Housing policy is suddenly back in the news. The Senate Banking Committee held hearings on housing finance reform recently and the Trump administration wants federal agencies to draft reform plans for mortgage securitization giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But after 10 years in conservatorship, winding down these government-sponsored enterprises and restructuring the mortgage market will be herculean tasks.

We can start by revisiting a proposed regulatory rule on credit scoring.