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Will the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau die under Trump?

(FINANCE NEWS) The CFPB has been making great strides in protecting consumers from big banks and foreclosure. With a new president, will all this change, or will the CFPB be able to continue their work?

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Waiting and speculation

With a new president elected, many citizens are expressing growing concern over a multitude of issues, from housing, to equal pay, and everything in between. While it seems to be a bit more prominent with President-elect Trump, this has certainly happened with every newly elected president. The American people want to see just what the new president will do: will he introduce reform? Will things stay the same? Right now, we’re all playing the waiting game, but there is one area in which we have a bit more concern: housing, more specifically the CFPB.

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We have long covered the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the different policy changes and reforms that have come down the road along the way. On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump vocally shared his dissatisfaction for the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. This makes us wonder what this could mean for the CFPB.

Is the CFPB in danger of being dissolved?

Of course, people opposing the CFPB is nothing new, but it has been making great strides in helping consumers fight back against banks. However, the threat to the CFPB doesn’t reside with President-elect Trump, but rather with the anti-CFPB legislators and the courts.

According to the Consumerist, anti-CFPB legislators have called for Congress to dismantle the agency entirely, but this would prove difficult, as it would likely require legislation that wouldn’t survive a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

The Consumerist goes on to state that Ed Mierzwinski, of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, noted anti-CFPB lawmakers would navigate around the possible filibuster by introducing smaller legislative efforts to slowly undermine the Bureau’s authority and its ability to enforce rules that have been deemed “too-restrictive” on the very banks foreclosing on consumers. The only difference now is that these lawmakers no longer, in theory, fear a presidential veto from President-elect Trump. A veto was a concern, along with a lack of majority numbers in the Senate, from President Obama.

Big banks take aim at CFPB

One of the most vocal opponents to the CFPB has been the Chairman of the House Financial Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling from Texas. Hensarling is also a potential nominee for Treasury Secretary in President-elect Trump’s administration. This could be detrimental to the CFPB.

Again, according to the Consumerist, Hensarling is also one of the most bank-backed members of Congress, second only to Paul Ryan, whose campaign received more contributions from commercial banks than any other House member.

Keep this is mind: Hensarling’s campaign and leadership PAC received around $1.9 million from the financial and real estate industries in the most recent election.

This accounts for nearly two-thirds of all money raised for the Congressman. This is pretty astounding, and it definitely explains why there is some worry regarding the dissolution of the CFPB.

The courts aren’t happy either

But as I previously stated, the major issues really aren’t with President-elect Trump or Hensarling; rather the big threat could be the courts.

The Director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, has been a controversial figure since President Obama appointed him (after some protesting from Hensarling and others). As he was appointed for five years in 2013, he could remain Director while President-elect Trump is in office. However, there was a recent federal appeals court ruling that could undermine his position.

The Director of the CFPB is unique in that they cannot be dismissed at will by the president, unlike other agencies where there is either a multi-commissioner panel, or the authority to be removed by the president.

While this may seem unusual, it was put in place to prevent the pressure that regulated parties might try to exercise on the legislative or executive branches of government to get the Director of the CFPB removed.

The federal appeals court recently concluded that the CFPB’s structure is in fact unconstitutional because it gives one person too much authority, and said person is not directly answerable to the president. This could mean Director Cordray will be on the way out in January. If this happens, the law allows for his Deputy Director to assume the position.

However, it is more likely that the Trump administration will have a replacement in mind, and therein lies the problem and worry.

There is one more potential change to keep in mind: Congress wants to make the CFPB more accountable to lawmakers by having funds come through Congress, rather than independently from the Federal Reserve. This has been proposed before, but the potential for it to pass has never been greater than with this administration.

What will happen?

As of right now, the CFPB has paused all pending legislation in response to Trump’s victory.

Bank-backed lawmakers have tried to reform the CFPB before, but have not, by and large, been successful. Some long-awaited regulations, like arbitration rules, are still pending and will likely be dissolved if Cordray is removed from office.

The Hill reports that President-elect Trump has pledged to put a moratorium on new agency rule-makings once he takes office, which could prevent any pending regulations from getting passed.

While this is all still speculation, it seems quite likely that there will be some reform in the CFPB with a Trump presidency, but how much, or to what extent remains to be see for certain. With any luck, once President-elect Trump takes office, he’ll allow the pending regulations to pass, or at least examine them and the strides the CFPB has been making before disallowing them, or completely dissolving the CFPB all together.

What do you think? Will this be the beginning of the end for the CFPB?

#CFPB

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Business Finance

How small companies can compete with free shipping

(BUSINESS FINANCE) When running a smaller shop online, how can you compete with free shipping from giants like Amazon that can afford it?

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It’s hard enough for small businesses to compete with big retailers. But online shops also have to consider the additional cost of shipping. With stores like Amazon and Walmart.com offering very cheap or even free shipping, how is a smaller shop to compete?

Shopify, an e-commerce platform for online shops and point-of-sale-systems, posed this question to Thea Earl, product manager for Shopify Shipping. On the AskShopify blog, she offered some tips for managing shipping costs.

First, Earl points out that while “free shipping is an excellent marketing tool,” if you can’t afford to offer free shipping, it helps to offer a “really clear flat rate.”

Customers who think they’re getting a good deal may balk if they’re surprised by an exorbitant cost to ship. If you can consistently offer a flat rate, and let the customer know right off the bat, they’ll “know what to expect when they hit checkout” and won’t get sticker shock at the last minute, causing cart abandonment.

If you want to offer free or very cheap shipping, consider raising the prices of your products, even by a dollar or so, to help cover delivery costs. Note the ratio between the profit margin and the cost to ship.

Perhaps for highly profitable items, you can afford to absorb the shipping costs, while slightly raising the prices of less profitable products to offset the balance.

Lastly, Earl realizes that small business owners have no control over whether or not a carrier raises its prices to ship.

You do, however, have control over the packaging. Be smart about the types of packaging you use. Measure products and buy envelopes and boxes that are just the right size to save money on weight.

Paper and poly envelopes are lighter, and therefore usually cheaper than cardboard boxes. Also, Earl points out that most carriers have at least a few options for free packaging. Utilize these free options whenever you can.

And of course, you could always join a group like Shopify to take advantage of their bulk mailing partnerships with carriers like UPS, USPS, and DHL.

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Business Finance

Expense reports suck, but AI could make them less tedious

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Expense reports suck. There’s no other way to describe them. Here’s a way to make the process suck less. Thanks, robots!

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A few years ago, I worked at a law firm doing clerk work during college breaks. One particular spring break, I found myself in a fluorescently lit office with zero décor, tracking expense reports. The whole break I sat there and wondered what I had done in a past life to deserve this nonsense.

All joking aside, expense reports are super boring. They just are. But, they are necessary to make sure that everything is on the up and up.

While going back and forth with my highlighter, crossing all of my T’s and dotting my I’s, I couldn’t help but think that there had to be a more efficient way to do this. Apparently robots were reading my mind, as there is an AI that now exists to expedite the expense report process.

Fyle is artificial intelligence powered expense tracking and reports. With everything from e-receipts to physical bills, Fyle’s technology tracks expenses and reports accurately in real time. This allows users to organize and manage all of their receipts and reports in a simple way.

Fyle comes with a pleathora of features, including: automatic data extraction, automatic policy enforcement, real-time expense visibility, dynamic approval system, custom approval hierarchy, third party APIs, trip authorization and requests, multi-country and multi-organization setup, and automatic account syncing.

With this, Fyle’s automatic reporting allows expensing to happen in one click, right within your email (via Fyle’s email plugin). Also, Fyle’s Policy engine determines expenses that require review and approval based on your expense policies.

For team friendly use, you can sync your corporate card transactions and auto match expenses that have been “Fyled”. You then receive real time visibility of receipts submitted against the transactions that were made. Fyle also allows for users to send in trip requests to receive authorization (equip with budgets, additional requests for flight, hotels, advances, etc.)

One important aspect of Fyle that can be an issue for a human is that it employs a method of duplicate detection. That way, every expense and report is one and done.

While this may be a helpful assistant in expense tracking and reporting, it’s always best to have a real set of eyes to check everything for accuracy.

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Business Finance

Free Bitcoin basic courses where no one will sell you any scams

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are booming, and it can be overwhelming, especially with all of the scams floating around. Here are some scam-free courses for free.

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If you’re a regular reader here, you’ve probably gotten used to seeing news about Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and blockchain just about every day. And if you’re anything like me, you may be scratching your head and feeling a little confused about it all.

Perhaps you’re thinking about investing in cryptocurrency, but need to know more. Or maybe you’re baffled by the basics, and just want to understand what it’s all about.

Fortunately, there are some opportunities to learn about Bitcoin for free – we’re talking about actual classes, not just a random Google search or two.

One of our faves is 10 Days of Bitcoin, which offers free email courses. The ten-day course syllabus includes overview classes like “The History of Bitcoin – A Unique (and Hard to Believe) Origin Story,” and “What is Bitcoin and What Makes It Different,” as well as classes with practical information for getting involved, such as “How to Get Your First Bitcoin, Safely and Securely,” and “Investing in ‘Initial Coin Offerings’ (or ICOs) and How to Avoid Scams.”

The course was created by John Saddington, a developer/entrepreneur who “desperately desires more people to become ‘tech literate’ and expand their own opportunities through software.” Saddington designed the class after having the same conversations over and over again with friends and family who asked him for explanations. The course is a great overview for folks who don’t really know much about the cryptocurrency and want a place to start learning.

For a more in-depth examination of the top dog of digital currencies, Princeton also has a series of 60 lectures, ranging from two to 28 minutes, that dives into the technicalities of cryptocurrency. These lectures are available on YouTube. In addition to a general overview, this series also looks at the “Mechanics of Bitcoin,” mining, and the “Future of Bitcoin.” It also places cryptocurrency in the context of “Community, Politics, and Regulation.”

With crypto on the rise, it may one day become part of regular course curriculums in high schools and colleges. Until then, there are opportunities online to learn about Bitcoin from reliable sources who aren’t out to sell anything, but simply want to help laypeople educate themselves.

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