Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Approved: The Senate confirmed Joseph Otting as comptroller of the currency, replacing Keith Noreika, who has been running the regulator in an acting capacity since May. He is expected to be sworn in next week. Otting, an associate of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at OneWest Bank, has worked in banking for decades.
Wearing two hats: Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is expected to be named acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the agency’s current head, Richard Cordray, leaves later this month. Mulvaney would run both agencies, which are located across the street from each other in Washington, until a permanent director is named, when he would return full-time to the OMB.
Mulvaney is apparently no fan of the consumer agency. As a Republican congressman he co-sponsored legislation to close it down, according to the New York Times.
And in a 2014 video interview with the Credit Union Times, the Washington Post reports, Mulvaney said the CFPB “is a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody.” He called the agency a “joke ... in a sick, sad way.”
The eventual permanent head of the CFPB “is likely to take immediate action to rollback certain rules while curbing pending enforcement actions that are considered too harsh on financial firms,” American Banker reports.
Mulvaney won’t be the only administration official with two jobs. Ken Phelan, the Treasury Department’s chief risk officer, will become acting director of the Office of Financial Research, replacing Richard Berner, who said he plans to leave before the end of the year. Phelan will begin his acting role later this month. The OFR was created by the Dodd-Frank act to spot financial system risks and improve financial data.
Wall Street Journal
Let’s be pals: PayPal agreed to sell nearly $6 billion in consumer loans to Synchrony Financial, which also agreed to fund future loans that PayPal makes. “The transaction will allow PayPal to continue arranging loans for its customers without taking on as much credit risk,” the paper notes. It will also free up around $1 billion a year in cash that PayPal will now be able to use to increase lending without constraining its balance sheet.
Behind the SIFI agreement: The recent agreement reached in the Senate that would reduce the number of banks subject to the “systemically important” label was the result of “nearly two weeks of frenzied behind-the-scenes talks,” the paper reports Friday. The deal originally included raising the current asset threshold of $50 billion to $350 billion before settling on $250 billion.
What goes up…: The recent decision by CME Group to sponsor futures contracts on bitcoin may very well assimilate the digital currency “into the mainstream investment world [and] boost its appeal and demand, making it more valuable,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s U.S. managing editor, says. But it is “highly likely there will be an opposite effect,” too, she warns. “Until now, investors have not had an easy way to bet against bitcoin — the only ‘short’ was to sell coins. But the CME futures contract will let investors place those negative bets. You do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to imagine that some bitcoin cynics will be doing just that.”
Fast start: Transferwise, the payments company that is waging a “fierce campaign to take market share from traditional banks in the U.K.,” more than doubled its revenues last year and is approaching profitability for the first time, the paper reports.
“Consumers should remain in control of the data they provide. Consumers need to know and decide who they are contracting with, what data of theirs is being used by whom and for what purpose, how to revoke data access and delete stored data, and how to seek relief if things go wrong.” — Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard in remarks prepared for a University of Michigan conference.