'What will the next idiocy be?': Comments of the year

Readers this year responded to Mick Mulvaney's leadership at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the banking industry's role in the national gun debate, Rep. Maxine Waters' upcoming leadership of the Financial Services Committee, the influence of tech companies like Facebook and Amazon on financial services and much more.

Mick Mulvaney
On Mick Mulvaney taking over as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the departure of Richard Cordray:

“Mulvaney is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT in his assessment and criticism of the crusaders from the prior administration. His insightful assertions of the flaws and abuse of power resident in the Warren/Cordray era offers hope that a more measured and objective approach is in our immediate future. Good news for the health of the financial services industry and the economy as a whole.”

Related: CFPB's Mulvaney blasts prior leadership, charts new mission for bureau
Sign displaying the JPMorgan Chase & Co. name.
On JPMorgan's plan to add 400 new branches across the country:

“Digital will not differentiate. Practically all banks, CU's, etc. will have very good digital platforms. Pricing is a similarly hard way to differentiate. Competitors can match. Physical presence in markets still matters to customers, and especially small businesses. Don't bet against JPM Chase here.”

Related: JPMorgan's branch expansion: Threat to rivals, or overreach?
On a report looking at the challenges bankers face in removing sexual harassment from the industry:

“Anyone that believes harassment is inevitable has no place in management. Not just in banking - anywhere.”

Related: Banks wrestle with sense of futility on sexual harassment
An attendee holds a pistol during the Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition at Excel in London.
On banks wading into political debates on gun policy, climate change and other major issues:

“While it is refreshing to see that bank CEOs show a fairly globalist socially liberal point of view, it's not hard to conceive of a scenario that goes too far (and/or in the other direction), particularly on constraining legal purchasing and financing. Most Planned Parenthood locations accept major payment card brands. Bankers as the moral compass of society just doesn't sit well with me. Bank risk managers as the implementers of policy - even less so.”

Related: Why bank CEOs are speaking out on guns, DACA and global warming
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
On what to expect in the ongoing battle between incoming Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and President Trump:

"At a time when political discourse has given way to polemics and histrionics, Waters would lead us like lemmings over the edge to lunacy. We need to return to reasoned debate based on shared values and mutual respect. If we are becoming an ungovernable society, it is the likes of Ms. Waters and her kindred spirits from both political poles that are taking us there. Get a grip, folks."

Related: Waters’ clashes with Trump just the beginning
On Facebook considering a plan to use bank customer data to develop new features on its site:

"I think the technical term for this is 'bad idea.'"

Related: Banks won't 'like' this offer from Facebook
In response to an argument from a credit union executive that the industry gets unfair criticism for growing in size:

"Part of the problem with your entire argument is that you give the public the impression that credit unions don't make money (non-profit). That's simply an industry tag-line. Facts are facts. If you look at N.I.M. comparisons, credit unions have very similar N.I.M.'s. The field of membership is the biggest sham and the NCUA's lack of enforcement and oversight has made them the laughing stock of the industry. Act like a bank, get taxed and regulated like one."

Related: Bank lobbyists’ hollow campaign against credit unions
Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting
On a push by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to reform the Community Reinvestment Act:

"I've been doing CRA for 30 years and we should welcome the opportunity to refine the CRA evaluation process. It's too subjective as one examiner may consider a CRA investment innovative while another examiner considers it uneventful. The law isn't the problem; it's the paperwork burden and subjectivity in the exam process that's created the problem we're dealing with today."

Related: OCC should improve CRA, not gut it
Bank of North Dakota
On a look at whether the public banking movement is losing momentum:

"Banks controlled by politicians. What could go wrong?"

Related: Is the public banking movement losing steam?
On efforts to improve customer service at bank branches to better compete with online startups:

"Why are we fixated on making the branch more appealing? It's reminiscent of Blockbuster investing in remodeling and adding products to its video rental stores, when consumers were flocking to streaming services. Digital self-service in branches is a technology fail; consumers don't need or want to come to our location and use our devices to conduct digital transactions when they can do them on their devices from anywhere, at anytime."

Related: Why banks still lag Amazon, Apple in customer service and satisfaction
On the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency warning about current high levels of corporate debt:

"Another 'creative' way for Wall Street to create a series of dominos that can tumble and take a disproportionate portion of the economy along - lots of potential for collateral damage as the effects of a downturn are magnified by the leverage and second and third level businesses (the ones that bank on 'Main Street') are impacted by the breakdown of upstream businesses."

Related: Swelling corporate debt could come back to bite banks: OCC
On an argument that recently confirmed CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger's decision to scrap her predecessor's plans to change the agency's name is a smart move:

"Common sense, that rarest of commodities in Washington, puts in an appearance here. Pick the battles that are worth fighting. Bravo."

Related: Kraninger’s move to ditch CFPB name change is a savvy one
On questions, ahead of the new year, about whether Trump represents a "systemic risk" to the country amidst a rocky stock market and rumors that he could fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell:

"Without question the President poses a systemic threat to the financial system as his economic policies (tariffs, huge budget deficits, partial government shutdown, endless bashing of Jay Powell, etc.) threaten the continuation of an already very long economic expansion. The Treasury Secretary’s news release last night, reporting on his calls to large-bank CEOs has further rattled the financial markets by stupidly raising the specter of a financial crisis. What will the next idiocy be?"

Related: Is Trump a systemic risk?
President Donald Trump waving to camera
Another reader weighs in on Trump's latest actions and what they could mean for the financial system:

"I get all of Trump's warts, but what people forget with all the bashing is, what was the alternative to Trump in the 2016 election? It certainly wasn't any better and we would be going down a very different road by now, probably not to the satisfaction of any readers here."

Related: Is Trump a systemic risk?