Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Killed: With Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, the U.S. Senate voted 51-50 to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule prohibiting mandatory arbitration of customer disputes. The action “handed the financial industry its most significant legislative victory since President Donald Trump took office,” the Wall Street Journal said. The House already passed a similar measure and the president is expected to sign it into law. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, American Banker

Tough choice: Two of the finalists for heading the Federal Reserve “have sharply different views on monetary policy, offering a stark test of [President] Trump’s economic priorities.”

“The choice pits a status quo candidate, a current Fed governor, Jerome H. Powell, against a Stanford University economics professor, John B. Taylor, who is celebrated by many conservative Republicans for his insistence that the economy would produce stronger growth if the Fed would just get out of the way,” the New York Times said. “Picking Mr. Powell could allow Mr. Trump to install a Republican Fed chairman without significantly altering monetary policy. But some Republicans in Congress and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence, want to overhaul the central bank, beginning right at the top.”

The president, at a Senate GOP caucus lunch, asked Republican senators for a show of hands on whether they favored Powell or Taylor.

Wall Street Journal
Paying up: Large American banks are starting to raise interest rates on deposits in order to keep customers, particularly sophisticated investors with large accounts, from moving their money elsewhere. The average rate paid by the biggest banks rose to 0.40% in the third quarter, the highest level in five years, according to Autonomous Research.

Higher rates “could pressure banks’ core profitability, which in turn could hurt the economy through making banks less willing to extend credit to businesses and consumers,” the paper says. “The profits are at risk especially if the demands for higher deposit rates continue to increase, even as longer-term interest rates remain more subdued.”

Renting beats owning: Despite rising fees, a growing percentage of renters still believes it makes more sense to lease than to buy a home, which is keeping the homeownership rate low, the paper says. A boom in multifamily construction has caused rent increases to level off in many American cities, at the same time that home prices have risen sharply. As a result, more than three-quarters of renters in August said they believe renting is the more affordable option, up from 65% a year earlier, according to a Freddie Mac survey expected to be released Wednesday.

The lure of lucre: Initial coin offerings have proven to be controversial, but “an even more fundamental disagreement is emerging,” the paper reports: Are these virtual tokens really an investment or just a glorified souvenir?

“I was very unpopular for saying it’s not an investment,” said Kathleen Breitman, co-founder of Tezos, which saw the value of its recent ICO drop more than 30% even though the tokens backed by the offering haven’t started trading yet. The tokens carry no promises of profit-sharing, dividends or equity, she noted. But people “don’t want to hear that,” she said. “They want a story that you’re going to get rich quick.”

Financial Times
Equifax probe: The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority has opened a formal investigation into Equifax after the credit bureau admitted that nearly 700,000 British customers may have had their personal details stolen in its data breach. “Publicly revealing investigations is a rare move for the regulator, which said it was doing so because of the ‘public interest’ in the case,” the paper notes.

Red flag: Standard & Poor’s warned U.K. banks the “recent double-digit annual growth rate” in consumer credit “should raise red flags for lenders.” Joseph Godsmark, a credit analyst at the rating agency, said while immediate credit risk remained low, “banks’ discipline in constraining risk appetite for new underwriting and risk-based pricing in a hot market has not been seriously tested since the financial crisis.”

Free room and board: Barclays is offering free accommodation for all college graduates — not just those applying for a job at the bank — for interviews in some of the U.K.’s main employment centers. Job hopefuls will be able to apply for two free nights in studio apartments, “a move that the bank hopes will relieve some of the financial pressure on students.” The bank found that four in 10 young graduates turn down job interviews because of the expense.

“We talk virtually every day about how renting is becoming less and less affordable. I think the answer is just that housing is becoming less and less affordable and renting is the more affordable of the two.” — David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily.

David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily
David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily

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