Lending Discrimination No More Excusable Than Other Forms of Discrimination, Wade Henderson Says

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a bill – H.R. 1737, the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act – that would make it harder for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on auto lending practices that lead to consistently higher interest rates for Black as well as Hispanic and Asian-American car buyers. Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued this statement in response:

“Discrimination undermines the civil rights of all Americans, whether in in voting rights, access to quality schools, or racial profiling by law enforcement. Lending discrimination is no different. When lenders redlined Black residents out of homeownership or gouged them on mortgages, we passed laws like the Fair Housing Act. But the vestiges of lending discrimination remain alive and well in the auto industry. We cannot allow auto lenders to charge Black borrowers more than Whites simply because of their skin color. A vote in support of this bill is a vote to ignore lending discrimination.”

 

 

Wall Street Riders Plague Congress’ Year-End Spending Bill

The financial industry has taken a close interest in the congressional struggle to refund the government. Where others find dysfunction, Wall Street sees opportunity.

The big banks and their lobbyists are quietly but aggressively pushing a long wish list of spending bill “riders.” These backdoor measures would roll back the reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis and undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the first and only financial oversight agency with a mandate to put the interests of consumers ahead of the power and profits of the banks.

This is an industry that has never made much of a secret of its disdain for rules of fair play. Now a disturbing number of legislators have embraced the same contemptuous attitude by lining up behind the use of “must pass” bills to advance Wall Street’s agenda. To counter their effort, financial reformers will need to work hard to expose and oppose the spending riders – and the lawmakers supporting them.

The threat is serious. The rider strategy has worked for Wall Street in the past, notably at the end of 2014, when a massive spending bill turned out to include an amendment repealing a key piece of the Dodd-Frank Act – a provision requiring the riskiest derivatives trades made by bank holding companies to be conducted outside the units that hold deposits and enjoy the benefits of deposit insurance.

This time around, Wall Street has even bigger aspirations. One of the many riders it’s promoting is hundreds of pages long, with subsections that would (among other things) make it easier to issue toxic mortgages like those that helped bring on the financial crisis; force financial regulators to go through a series of new and redundant procedures before issuing rules or taking enforcement actions; and, under the guise of relief for “community banks,” deregulate a wide swath of institutions up to and including the likes of Wells Fargo.

That particular package of proposals was originally a bill authored by Senate banking committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Unable to convince the Senate to consider his legislation through normal channels, Shelby has now publicly stated that the appropriations process (with the implied threat of a government shutdown) offers the “best shot” of getting it enacted.

In another priority attack, the major Wall Street brokerage houses and the big insurance companies hope to derail the Department of Labor’s efforts to safeguard Americans against conflicted retirement investment advice – “advice” that costs us an estimated $17 billion a year. Yet another spending rider would block the Department of Education from cutting off the flow of federal loan money to for-profit career colleges like Corinthian and ITT Tech, which have saddled countless students with crippling debt for worthless degrees. Still other riders would make it harder for nonprofit groups to challenge discriminatory housing and mortgage-lending practices.

A number of these proposals are squarely aimed at the Consumer Bureau. The bureau has earned the ire of Wall Street by delivering more than $11.2 billion in relief to more than 25.5 million Americans defrauded by financial companies. In response, the financial industry is working with its friends in Congress on spending riders that would bring the bureau under the congressional appropriations process and end its guaranteed funding through the Federal Reserve, while, at the same time, placing it under the thumb of a five-member commission chosen by party leaders – a proven recipe for regulatory gridlock – instead of a single director, as Dodd-Frank stipulated.

Other possible dangers are riders that would block or impede the bureau’s specific ability to act against discriminatory auto lending, triple-digit-interest payday-style loans and the financial industry’s use of take-it-or-leave-it agreements to bar consumers from joining forces over a common complaint.

A large number of businesses are dependent on loans. This is especially true in the early days of establishing a business or startup where money can be particularly hard to find. For this reason, business financing and loan experts such as Summit Financial Resources are committed to making sure companies make the right decisions where money related matters are concerned.

The industry’s agenda is far-reaching. But the riders all share a common purpose: They would make it easier for banks and financial companies to exploit us, whether by cheating consumers, engaging in reckless bets or using taxpayer subsidies to generate windfall profits for a handful of giant institutions and a narrow financial elite.

One more thing these measures have in common: Financial interests are trying to push them into the budget because they would not look good as stand-alone measures that had to be debated in the light of day. In a joint letter to Congress last week, 166 consumer, labor, civil rights, community and faith-based organizations pointed out that a large majority Americans, regardless of political party, want financial regulation to be tougher not weaker; that finding, borne out by repeated polls, was most recently confirmed by a Washington Post/ABC News survey on the presidential contest, in which 67 percent of the respondents (58 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats) said they would back a candidate calling for stricter financial regulation, while only 24 percent said they would back a candidate opposing stricter regulation.

Congress must reject the use of budget amendments and other undemocratic tactics to advance a special-interest agenda. To make sure it does, the rest of us must convince our lawmakers that we, too, are watching.

— Jim Lardner

Originally published on USNews.com

The Real Wolves of Wall Street

It’s hard to make a serious argument against an agency that’s returned over $11 billion to more than 25 million Americans scammed by their financial companies. Especially when that agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, enjoys broad public support across party lines for its efforts to crack down on debt-trap loans, credit card overcharges, illegal debt collection practices and discriminatory auto lending.

That’s why the big bank lobby and its allies in Congress had to contort themselves last week to justify their attempts to hamstring the bureau. Luckily for the rest of us, their farfetched talking points didn’t sway the bureau’s defenders in Congress, and their attack fell flat.

The House Financial Services Committee was considering legislation to change the way the CFPB is led, putting it under a five-member commission – a recipe for partisan gridlock and increased industry influence – instead of a single director. The White House, along with more than 75 consumer groups, spoke out against the move. The major architects of financial reform, including Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also a Massachusetts Democrat, and former Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., made it clear that they too opposed it.

While the bill ended up passing, as expected, it did so essentially along party lines. Only two Democrats, Reps. David Scott of Georgia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, voted in favor with all the committee’s Republicans – despite a major effort by Wall Street lobbyists. For weeks, they’d been telling reporters about a supposed wave of mounting support for their “bipartisan” measure, getting congressional allies like Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., to spread the word in the press.

The very obvious intent of their proposal is to impede the consumer bureau’s ability to fight against abusive financial practices. To distract attention from this inconvenient truth, the bill’s defenders resorted to scaremongering. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas equated single-director leadership with North Korea, while Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., called it “the Stalin model.” Both failed to mention that it was Republicans who called for a single director to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, created in 2008, or that another bank regulator, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, has functioned with a single director since 1863 with no calls from Congress to change it.

In the effort to gain support beyond the ranks of the usual Wall Street-friendly suspects, a few of the bill’s proponents even professed to be looking out for consumers’ interests to protect them from a hypothetical weak consumer bureau director appointed by a hypothetical future president. No actual consumer advocates have ever expressed such a concern, however: They know that an effective director some of the time is far better than a milquetoast commission all of the time.

The real impetus for this legislation comes, very obviously, from the financial industry lobby, which wants the change because it will make it easier for banks, payday lenders and debt collectors to engage in unfair, deceptive and abusive practices. And the industry is willing to spend huge amounts of campaign and lobbying money to get its way.

In 2010, Wall Street expended over $1 million a day seeking to block reforms, including the creation of the consumer bureau. That extraordinary rate of spending has continued, according to an Americans for Financial Reform report that covered the 2014 election cycle. A more recent report from the consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress shows that eight members of the House Financial Services Committee received donations from the payday lending industry within weeks of endorsing a previous attempt to subject the consumer bureau to rule by commission.

Last week, six major banking industry lobbyists did us all a favor by signing their names to a joint op-edopenly advocating for the commission bill. They claimed that they, too, were worried about what might happen, under continued single-director leadership, to “the [consumer bureau]’s work over the past four years.” Hearing that absurd argument from the leaders of trade associations that have opposed the bureau on issue after issue over the past four years made it clearer than ever that the push for a commission is just another piece of the industry’s strategy to roll back reform and revert to the unregulated havoc that brought us the financial crisis.

Warren put it best, telling The Huffington Post, “Give me a break – this is the wolves saying all they care about is Grandma.”

Of course, they won’t give us a break. The wolves of Wall Street will keep on trying to obstruct the consumer bureau’s important work in any way they think they can. But now more people will understand what’s at stake, and we can expect more people in and out of Congress to speak out and fight hard when this bill moves to the House floor and if and when it advances any further.

— Jim Lardner

Originally published on USNews.com

Ferguson Report Cites Payday Lending as a Key Economic Barrier

Better to go without electricity, says Cedric Jones, than take out a payday loan to keep the lights on. Jones is one of the Ferguson, Missouri, residents quoted in Forward through Ferguson, the just-released report of a commission appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to conduct a “thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality and safety in the St. Louis region.”

In a document largely concerned with law enforcement, the authors identify predatory lending as a significant barrier to racial justice. (See pages 1, 49, 50, 56, 130 and 134 of the report.) “Low-income households in Missouri with limited access to credit frequently seek high-cost ‘payday’ loans to handle increasFerguson Findingsed or unexpected emergency expenditures,” they write. “These lenders, who are often the only lending option in low-income neighborhoods, charge exorbitant interest rates on their loans.”

The average annual interest rate for payday loans in Missouri was well over 400 percent in 2012, according to data cited in the report. That’s a higher rate than in any of Missouri’s eight adjacent states. As Cedric Jones told the commission, “If you borrow $500 with an installment loan from a payday loan place, the loan is 18 months. If you take it the whole 18 months, you pay back $3,000… Six times the amount… And if you’re poor to begin with you can get stuck in those things and never, never get out of it.”

A family with a net income of $20,000 could pay as much as $1,200 a year in fees and interest associated with exploitative “alternative” lending products, the report observes, pointing to research done by Federal the Reserve in 2010. The report urges action at both the state and federal level to “end predatory lending by changing repayment terms, underwriting standards, [and] collection practices and by capping the maximum APR at the rate of 36 percent.”

CFPB Stands up for Servicemembers by Stopping Financial Company Abuses

Over the last few months, the CFPB announced enforcement actions against two companies that repeatedly targeted servicemembers with abusive products. The first company, Fort Knox National, and its subsidiary, Military Assistance Company, charged servicemembers recurring hidden fees by abusing a payment system many servicemembers use send money home or pay creditors while deployed.  This process, known as the military allotment system, deducts payments directly from earnings. In this case, it also allowed the company to charge repeated, undisclosed fees to servicemembers’ accounts. The company also made it extraordinarily difficult to learn of these fees: online account information did not include fee charges, and monthly statements were not distributed.  As a result, tens of thousands of servicemember accounts were drained of millions of dollars in fees. The CFPB is now requiring the company to pay $3.1 million in relief to the people they harmed, as well as to stop its deceptive practices.

The CFPB also brought an enforcement action against Security National Automotive Acceptance Company, an auto lender, for illegally threatening current and former servicemembers in order to collect debts. The CFPB is charging the company exaggerated the potential disciplinary action that servicemembers could face after failing to pay their loans; contacted and threatened to contact commanding officers to encourage repayments, threatened to garnish wages, and threatened borrowers with legal action. The Bureau’s lawsuit charges that the company violated the Dodd-Frank Act prohibitions on unfair, deceptive and abusive practices and it is seeking financial penalties, an injunction from further abuses and compensation for victims.

Because servicemembers and their families receive steady paychecks and have unique financial challenges such as lengthy deployments and frequent moves, they are all too often the target of predatory lenders and other financial fraudsters that congregate outside military bases.

With these two actions, the CFPB has now brought six enforcement cases against companies that have violated servicemembers rights.  Those and other enforcement actions can be seen here. To date, more than 100,000 servicemembers have been helped by the Bureau’s work to protect servicemembers from financial abuse and the companies responsible have been hit with fines and restitution charges of over $100 million total.

For more on the CFPB’s work to help servicemembers, see this fact sheet.

— Rebecca Thiess

CFPB Takes on Payment Processors for Facilitating Fraud

The CFPB recently brought legal action against a number of companies, including Universal Debt & Payment Solutions, for defrauding consumers by using threats, deception, and harassment to collect “phantom debts” that the consumers did not owe to the collectors or, in most instances, to anyone else.   In this instance, consumers collectively paid millions of dollars to the debt collectors after being subject to illegal threats and false statements, including threats of arrest or wage garnishment.  In some cases, the phony collectors took money out of consumers’ accounts without any authorization at all.

In a noteworthy move, the  CFPB’s complaint named not only the debt collectors, but also the various companies alleged to have been “service providers” to the debt collectors—those serving as payment processors, without whom the scammers could not have collected the consumer’s debit and credit card payments. With this enforcement, the CFPB is insisting that payment processors—and not just the companies directly dealing with consumers—are also subject to its enforcement authority under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA).

The Bureau’s complaint charges that while the debt collectors in this case were guilty of threatening and intimidating consumers over debts that were falsely claimed to be owed, the payment processors were also in the wrong for their role in facilitating the debt collectors’ actions in this scheme—ignoring clear signs that the collectors were committing fraud.

In one example that the complaint highlights, two payment processors, Global Payments and Pathfinder, ignored extremely high chargeback rates.  (‘Chargebacks’ occur after a consumer successfully disputes a charge as unauthorized or otherwise improper and the payment is reversed.)  Chargebacks are rare in legitimate card transactions, and every chargeback requires an inquiry.  The major debt collection company in this suit as well as an affiliate had chargeback rates of close to 30% in some months, rates that should have prompted termination of the processing agreement.  Another payment processor, EMS, ignored complaints from consumers who reported unauthorized payments taken out of their accounts and fraud detection reports that flagged the collectors because there was “[n]othing found to confirm the existence of the business.”

The CFPB’s actions in this case are in some ways similar to steps the Department of Justice has taken though Operation Choke Point, where the DOJ is holding banks responsible for processing payments despite evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.  All three DOJ cases filed as part of Operation Choke Point are instances – like this one – in which the banks or payment processors in question knowingly facilitated illegal activity that did serious harm to consumers.  See this new fact sheet from NCLC outlining the three cases brought by the Department of Justice, against CommerceWest Bank, Plaza Bank, and Four Oaks Bank & Trust.  Banks and payment processors that comply with their responsibilities to know their customers and look out for signs of fraud, as most do, play important roles in safeguarding consumers.  Actions by the CFPB and DOJ against banks and payment processors who enable fraud are critical to cut off fraudsters from access to the payment system.

— Rebecca Thiess

Hill Threats Escalate as CFPB Protects Consumers, Servicemembers (Ed Mierzwinski)

Today, the House Appropriations Committee, at the behest of both Wall Street and predatory lenders seeking to run amok, will vote to eliminate the CFPB’s independence from the politicized appropriations process. The bill will also further hamstring the SEC, a federal financial agency that struggles to protect small investors since its funding is already subject to the committee’s whims. You can watch the debacle here at 11am ET. Wall Streeters and payday lenders will be lighting their cigars with $100 bills– chump change compared to the $1.9 million dollars/day ($1.4 billion total in this election cycle) they’ve been spending to roll back Wall Street reform.

You can read the opposition letter from Americans for Financial Reform, PIRG, Consumer Federation of America, the NAACP and other leading groups here (excerpt):

“Changing the CFPB’s independent funding would leave the CFPB more vulnerable than the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the FDIC to industry influence, once again treating consumer financial protection as a less important matter. It would give Wall Street and the worst elements of the financial services industry endless lobbying opportunities to deny the CFPB the funding to do its job if and when the regulator took action that a sector of the industry did not like.”

Meanwhile, over at the CFPB, important work to protect consumers, including servicemembers, from unfair and predatory financial practices continues. Some recent highlights include:

Of course, the CFPB continues to work on other major projects that have drawn the ire of powerful special interests. WIthin a few days, expect new detailed consumer narratives (stories) to appear in the highly successful Public Consumer Complaint Database. Expect further action this year on the CFPB’s effort to rein in payday and other high-cost lenders. Expect further action on its research finding that pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in financial contracts harm consumers.

But, expect further attacks on the CFPB in both the Senate and the House. Recently, freshman Senator David Perdue (GA) escalated his own over-the-top attack, alleging that the bureau was “a rogue agency that dishes out malicious financial policy” and filing a bill similarly eliminating the CFPB’s independence. (By the way, the so-called US Consumer Coalition” listed in the Perdue release is a front group for some financial industry that won’t disclose its backing.)

The American public supports the CFPB, overwhelmingly and on a bi-partisan basis. After all, the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders. Congress needs to start listening to consumers, instead of special interests. Why should they be allowed to run amok, even as our economy struggles to recover from the recession caused by the 2008 financial collapse triggered by “rogue” financial practices?

— Ed Mierzwinski

Originally published on U.S. PIRG

 

Big-bank Threat Backfires

During the 2014 election cycle, banks and financial companies were associated with almost half a billion dollars in campaign contributions to candidates for national office. (See AFR’s latest “Wall Street Money in Washington” report, drawing on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.) That figure was more than twice the spending level of the next biggest business sector.

What do these institutions expect in return? Benefactors and beneficiaries alike almost always insist there’s no quid pro quo. But several weeks ago, insiders at Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and BankofAmerica broke with that tradition, quietly acknowledging an effort to use their political spending for a very clear purpose: to get Senate Democrats to back away from calls by one of their leaders, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for a breakup of the biggest banks.

In a December speech, Warren cited Citi as a bank that had grown dangerously large. “Instead of passing laws that create new bailout opportunities for Too-Big-To-Fail banks, let’s pass… something – anything – that would help break up these giant banks,” she said.

That statement, coupled with Warren’s growing influence among Senate Democrats, caused alarm on Wall Street and led to a discussions in which, Reuters reported, “representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America [debated] ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone…”

Citi in particular, according to the Reuters article (citing “sources inside the bank”), “decided to withhold donations… to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power.” JPMorgan, the article added, has given Senate Democrats only a third of its usual amount this year, while its “representatives have met Democratic Party officials to emphasize the connection between its annual contribution and the need for a friendlier attitude toward the banks.”

All this led Ari Rabin-Havt of the American Prospect to ask: “Did one of the largest banks in the United States accidentally acknowledge an attempt to bribe members of Congress?” And: “Will JP Morgan face any investigation, let alone penalty, for their attempted bribe?”

“It would be naïve to think so,” Havt wrote, answering his own question. “Yet the only defense for this sort of corruption seems to be that it happens all the time.”

In the short run, at least, Wall Street’s efforts don’t seem to have had the intended effect. Warren, according to USA Today, “immediately seized on the report, using it in a defiant fundraising appeal for her network of supporters nationwide to make up the amount in contributions to the Senate campaign fund.”

“The big banks have thrown around money for years,” she wrote in an e-mail posted on her blog. “But they are moving out of the shadows. They have reached a new level of brazenness, demanding that Senate Democrats grovel before them.”

Another prominent Democrat responded by vowing not to accept any campaign donations from the megabanks. “Wall Street won’t be happy until Democrats stop listening to progressives like me and Elizabeth Warren – and instead carry out orders from the biggest banks in the world,” said Maryland Representative (and Senate candidate) Donna Edwards . And the chairman of Democracy for America, a group founded by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, urged candidates across the country to follow Edwards’ example if they “want to prove that they’re not owned by Wall Street bullies.”

 — Jim Lardner

Prepaid Cards Should Truly be Prepaid

The prepaid card market is relatively new, and growing quickly — the number of prepaid transactions increased from 1.3 billion in 2009 to 3.3 billion in 2013. AFR has urged the CFPB to establish rules that will ensure consumers are protected in this growing market. And the CFPB has proposed to do just that.

Last month, AFR and 44 members of our coalition submitted a comment letter spelling out a number of ways in which prepaid cards need to be made safer and fairer. Now we have delivered a petition in which more than 8,500 people urge the CFPB to move ahead with rules to keep prepaid cards from being loaded up with tricks or traps.

Prepaid cards are essentially debit cards that are not tied to an individual bank account (although it is becoming more common for banks to offer them). Prepaid cards can be used by employers in lieu of paychecks, or by colleges as a way to get financial aid to students. They are also often used by individuals who have been shut out of bank accounts or hit with too many bank overdraft fees. Prepaid cards can be very useful for some consumers, but they can also come with significant disadvantages—and lack basic consumer protections that apply to debit and credit cards.  Some are linked to payday-like loan features, or to fees that consumers don’t see coming. Sometimes colleges or employers steer students or employees into accepting funds on prepaid cards instead of a personal bank account – a practice that can create problems, such as a shortage or absence of free ATMS, the inability to write checks, and a lack of paper statements.

The CFPB proposal takes a number of important steps to offer greater protections for consumers and to advance a priority of ours – keeping prepaid cards actually prepaid, so that users can only spend dollars loaded onto the cards, and cannot overdraft, triggering high fees as a result.  The proposed rule very substantially limits, but does not totally prohibit, overdraft fees.

The petition asks the Bureau to make sure that prepaid cards have “no overdraft fees or credit features that cause people to spend more money than they have put on the card, and charge them extra for the ‘privilege….’ As you move forward in the rule-writing process, we strongly support the separation of prepaid from credit products, the elimination of overdraft fees, increased protections for those at risk of being steered to higher-cost payroll cards by their employers or schools, and the adoption of basic consumer protections that already apply to ordinary credit cards and bank accounts.”

The public comment period on the Bureau’s proposal ended in late March. A final rule is expected later this year or early next year.

 — Rebecca Thiess

Off the Deep End

Wall Street bonuses are back in the spotlight. The 2014 figures are out, and so is a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies: “Off the Deep End: The Wall Street Bonus Pool and Low-Wage Workers.” Last year, it shows, the nation’s bankers got bonuses adding up to more than double the combined earnings of the nation’s full-time minimum-wage workers.

Since the first group is far smaller than the second (167,800 bankers versus a minimum-wage workforce of just over a million), this works out to an even more astonishing per-person gap: while the average minimum wage earner made $13,903, the average banker got a bonus of $169,845 – and, of course, that’s extra money, above and beyond the banker’s base pay.

Numbers like these raise profound questions of economic justice. They also remind us of the role that reckless Wall Street pay practices played in the 2008 financial meltdown, and of reforms enacted by Congress that were intended to do something about that problem.

The Dodd-Frank Act included two pay-related provisions. Section 956 prohibits compensation practices that incentivize dangerous behavior on the part of Wall Street traders and executives. And Section 953 requires all publicly traded companies to disclose the gap between the pay of their CEO, on the one hand, and their median employee, on the other. The idea was to help shareholders guard their pocketbooks against self-seeking executives and better evaluate the long-term soundness of companies in light of evidence that runaway pay at the top inhibits teamwork and reduces employee morale and productivity.

Neither of these provisions has been implemented, however. Last fall, SEC chair Mary Jo White said she expected her agency to complete action on Section 953 by the end of 2014. But since she said that, her agency has been silent, while Wall Street lobbyists have continued to fight the idea – and to make absurd claims about the supposedly burdensome costs of compiling the information.

When it comes to Section 956, the situation is more promising. Federal regulators came out with a woefully inadequate proposal, calling for a modest delay between the awarding and payout of bonuses for a limited number of senior executives, in 2011; and let the matter slide for the next three years. In recent months, however, the Administration has highlighted the importance of this provision, with President Obama  urging regulators to act and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew identifying pay reform as a high-priority task. And now the responsible regulators are working on a whole new draft proposal which we hope and expect will be stronger.

Meanwhile, European Union officials have come out with guidelines limiting executive pay at financial firms to 100% of base salary, or 200% with shareholder approval. Perhaps the forthright attitude of EU regulators on this issue is beginning to catch on in the U.S.

— Nickolai Sukharev