Stuck on Choke Point: Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Bill Isaac drew readers' attention back to the Department of Justice's controversial Operation Choke Point by arguing that the initiative is having a potentially devastating impact on lawful check cashing and small loan businesses. "If lawful payday lenders and check cashers can be driven out of the banking system because someone in the government doesn't like them or what they do, what lawful businesses are next?" he wrote. Many readers championed Isaac's move to draw attention to the ongoing initiative. "De facto law making by out of control, politically oriented regulatory agencies must have the bright light of due process intensely focused on the abuse of power and position at its core," one reader wrote. But another commenter thought more evidence was needed to prove Choke Point had gone off course. "Notwithstanding my feelings about payday lenders, I would be very troubled to learn that the DOJ was engaging in selective prosecution or similar abuses of its powers," the reader wrote. "But for all the heated rhetoric about 'out of control' DOJ officials, I'm surprised at the paucity of evidence to substantiate the claim that the DOJ is acting 'without color of law and based on a political agenda.'" Isaac responded: "I know a lot of senior bankers, and I am certain that they would not be throwing this long-standing, profitable business out of the bank but for government pressure particularly at a time when so many banks are struggling for earnings growth."
Speaking of Payday Lending: Arjan Shutte of Core Innovation Capital argued there are, in fact, some ways to transform the divisive payday lending industry. For instance, he suggests governing Google, regulating nationally and reducing demand. Some readers championed Shutte's suggestions. "Wow, these are some really smart ideas," one commenter wrote. But others thought reinventing the payday loan would prove impossible. "As long as the mindset of the regulators is to protect the consumer at all cost and that is the mindset of the regulators this will go nowhere," one commenter wrote.
Also on the Blog: Pat Thelen, chairperson of the Electronic Payments Association, stumped for phased-in, same-day ACH payments and Orson Aguilar of the Greenlining Institute and Richard Chacon of Union Bank suggested banks diversify their supplier networks. Our Risk Doctor Cliff Rossi argued it may be time to settle for GSE restructuring and Noma Bruton of Pacific Mercantile Bank shared her thoughts on why bank CEOs barely rate among the world's greatest leaders (Spoiler: it's all about trust). Meanwhile, Vikas Bansal of Fiserv suggested more small banks offer business credit cards. "Small business owners are increasingly looking to unsecured credit, rather than traditional loans, as a faster and more convenient funding mechanism," he writes.
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