Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Each year, approximately twelve million Americans resort to payday loans for quick money to pay off bills and cover emergency expenses. The small, short-term unsecured loans give borrowers a quick way to get money with little consideration of their creditworthiness. Borrowers are plagued with extremely high annual percentage rates to offset the seemingly substantial risk to the lender. However, many studies have shown that payday loans carry no more long-term risk to the lender than other forms of credit. Lenders are able to gain from the high interest rates that burden borrowers while simultaneously benefitting from the relatively low-stakes gamble of the nature of the loan. This illuminates a harrowing truth: the real victims of exploitative and predatory “cash advances” are the borrowers themselves who continue taking on more and more of these high-interest loans in a vicious cycle to repay small debts.
Following the 2016 Wells Fargo scandal in which the bank opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts to collect fees, federal regulators have worked to address and respond to the corporation’s illegal conduct. On February 2nd, 2018, the U.S. Federal Reserve imposed unprecedented restrictions against Wells Fargo & Co. when it capped the bank’s growth for 2018 such that it could not exceed the total assets owned at the end of 2017. This restriction marks a substantial departure from previous penalties issued for improper compliance. Changes in policies and procedures and this novel punishment reflect a notable shift in the national bank’s expectations of corporate directors.
Regulation in the financial sector is critical to preventing crimes that include fraud, money laundering tax evasion, human trafficking, aiding drug trafficking, and even financing terrorism. Despite the importance of regulation and banking institutions’ compliance with such regulations, many laws regarding money laundering are outdated and prevent efficient prevention of such crimes. Additionally, enforcement against large financial institutions is a difficult matter because of the harm that penalizing them could have on the economy.
In July of 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Director, Richard Cordray, implemented a rule regulating the ability of banks to prohibit class-action lawsuits from being placed within the fine print of their consumer contracts. By the end of July, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn any recently issued regulation by an executive agency. The Senate subsequently voted to repeal the rule after a 50-51 vote, where Mike Pence cast his vote to break the 50-50 tie. On November 1st, 2017, President Trump signed the bill repealing the regulation.