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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

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean what it used to; no longer the end

(FINANCE NEWS) With the way the world works now, bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean game over.

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When it’s over, it’s over. Perhaps you heard your best friend utter this phrase after a bad break-up. It’s true, most things that end, end for good. Except in this case, when it comes to the retail business.

We have seen a record number of retailers declare bankruptcy this year. Beloved teen retailers like Wet Seal have closed down their stores and malls have become ghost towns.

Reuters estimates that nineteen major retail chains have already shut down for good. While you may not miss the tight, neon dresses sold at Bebe, closures of all of these retailers result in a tremendous loss of jobs.

And it is not only job losses from the store in your hometown, often it is hundreds of locations across the nation.

For most of these retailers, bankruptcy was the definitive end to the business. After filing, most companies choose to close all locations and liquidate the assets. This is the most common path to take, until now.

Even with the surge of bankruptcy, those behind the business are finding alternative paths to keep the business alive.

Behind the scenes, there are three core groups invested in every business: the company’s creditors, vendors, and landlords. All of these groups have a vested interest in keeping the company alive even if they are in debt.

The most recent trend for bankrupt businesses has been to keep stores open and negotiate debt loans rather than shutting down everything. The truth is that a lot of these businesses still attract customers and have a large cash flow, even if they are technically bankrupt.

For instance, Toys ‘R’ Us manages to take in $800 million each year on average which makes it a viable business. Of course, they are $5 billion in debt, but with an extension and restructuring of their business, they could one day turn a profit. However, this will only happen if they are given the chance to keep their doors open.

There are other options to lending helping hands to bankrupt businesses. After the popular teen retailer Rue21 declared bankruptcy landlords agreed to reduce their rents 20% on average. Though these situations are not ideal, this mentality gives businesses a life beyond bankruptcy and save thousands of jobs in the process.

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Business Finance

Everyone’s favorite online retailer is set to accept Bitcoin by October!!!

(FINANCE NEWS) One big name online retailer is about to hop on the cryptocurrency train and start accepting Bitcoin at check out as soon as October.

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Crypto currently

There’s no denying that cryptocurrency has taken off like wildfire, but will Amazon be jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon?

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According to one top source, Amazon has already started flirting with the idea and could be ready to fully use bitcoin in October.

Kind of a big deal

The news broke via The James Altucher Report, which is run by the former hedge fund manager and venture capitalist James Altucher. Altucher uses his experience in the business realm, where he has cofounded over 20 companies, to offer realistic financial advice and insight.

He communicates via his popular newsletters, blog and podcast. According to Altucher, Amazon is geared up to change their payment options as early as October.

Already Testing the Waters

Last year, Amazon partnered up with Digital Currency Group, a major investor in Bitcoin, to act as an intermediary between them and their clients. Amazon’s role is to handle all transactions, many of which include the popular cryptocurrency.

Major companies like Google, Ebay and Paypal already accept bitcoin so it is just a matter of time until Amazon follows suit. Even Japan and Russia recognize it as legal currency.

Amazon + Bitcoin = AmaCoin?

Don’t think of bitcoin as Amazon’s only option. Some speculate that Amazon may one day create their own currency.

As a company that has already started testing drones as a future delivery method, custom currency does not seem so out of this world.

The blockchain option has been a refreshing alternative to using traditional banks, especially for those who do not have faith in the current banking practices.

There are questions

If Amazon jumps onboard and rolls out a plan to use bitcoin this year, Altucher anticipates a major surge in its value. Since they have yet to announce an official strategy, and because the option of them creating their own currency is still up in the air, it is unknown how Amazon will integrate it into their system.

Will Amazon find a different way to accept bitcoin? Perhaps a brand new way? If Amazon does start using bitcoin they will join many other tech companies that have already anticipated the growth in its value. Amazon isn’t the only company that has started transitioning over. Many other tech companies have already started to become intermediaries to manage digital transactions.

#AmazonBitcoin

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Business Finance

Pirate Bay is mining cryptos using their users’ CPU… those scallywags

(FINANCE NEWS) Cryptocurrency and mining and pirates. It all sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but trust us, it’s 100% real.

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Who pirates the pirates?

Well, pirates, naturally. Piracy is a fractal. There is nothing so small that someone won’t strap on an eyepatch, grab a parrot and snag themselves an unlawful piece.

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Such is the swashbuckling tale recently broken on Reddit about Pirate Bay, which is borrowing visitors’ CPU cycles to mine cryptocurrency.

TRANSLATION, PLEASE?

To translate that from Internet to English, “mining” cryptocurrency means volunteering your computer to verify blockchain transactions. We’ve covered blockchain in depth before, but the short version is it’s a particular security protocol that encrypts tokens representing money.

When you join a cryptocurrency exchange, you use that exchange’s blockchain to encrypt your stuff.

Some members of an exchange volunteer their computers to verify that transactions have taken place. Then they’re encrypted, never to be futzed with again. Those members get paid for their trouble with fractions of coins from the exchange.

The volunteers don’t actually do anything. The verification and encryption are automatic. That’s the point of cryptocurrency: no flighty or nefarious humans are involved in the bookkeeping. It’s all about the robots. That said, somebody owns the robots, and robot time is worth money. Therefore, miners.

SIXTEEN COINS – WHAT DO YOU GET?

“Miners,” in common currency dork parlance, are folks who invest in verifying transactions on a large scale, turning those fractions of coins into meaningful profit. It’s a smart way to make consistent money.

One big caveat: you need serious computing power to do it enough to matter.

Lifewire estimates an upfront cost of $3000 to $5000 to get real money out of the process. That said, their estimate also says 50 dollars a day in profit, which means over the course of a year you’re talking 3 to 5 times the money you put in. Ain’t chump change.

YAR

Which brings us to Pirate Bay. Pirate Bay is, as I’m sure the pure and innocent readers of American Genius would have no reason to know, a torrent site where various forms of media may be secured for free by nefarious means.

You’re shocked, I’m sure. Not everybody is, it turns out: as of this article, it’s the 88th most popular website on Earth. 25th in Canada! Canadians, man. They’re tricksy.

So, unsurprisingly, is Pirate Bay.

To state the obvious, swiping media and giving it away is not a working business strategy. Robin Hood did not have a positive P&L ratio. Typically – I’m told, I of course would have no way of knowing this myself – torrent sites support themselves through ad revenue. That wasn’t cutting it for Pirate Bay, plus they just wanted to get rid of the ads for an improved user experience, so they experimented.

Their first scheme was borrowing users’ CPUs while they were on the website, using unused processor cycles to mine cryptocurrency.

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A CRYPTODIME?

The rollout was flawed. In fact the rollout was nonexistent: the only reason anybody even knew it was happening was somebody effed up the miner script and it started taking 100 percent of users’ CPU cycles as long as they were on the page. Oops.

But fair dues, Pirate Bay did exactly what tech folks should do when caught with their digital drawers down.

They fessed up in an official statement that explained their intent, addressed the problem people were complaining about, and invited further input. That’s more than can be said for, say, Uber.

More to the point, if the cryptocurrency mining plan goes forward, Pirate Bay will be providing a service to consumers in exchange for compensation at stated rates. The fact that it all comes in a novel form – the service is peer-to-peer, based on a model of free sharing; the compensation is provided voluntarily by people who aren’t receiving the services; the rates are measured in CPU cycles rather than money – doesn’t change the fact that fundamentally, “service to consumer for compensation” equals “business plan.”

For another time

Whether it’s a workable business plan or not is a question for Future Matt. Present Matt just has a question: if it does work, if Pirate Bay becomes a self-supporting enterprise trading encrypted, peer-to-peer money for an encrypted, peer-to-peer service, what then? At what point does it become more reasonable, and for that matter more ethical, to accept peer-to-peer transaction as a real thing and regulate it accordingly, as opposed to banning it outright?

Ask Piet Heyn. Better yet, order a mojito and run it past Captain Morgan. (It’s better because you get a mojito.) Back in the days of real pirates, when you wanted to rein them in, you just legalized them. If Pirate Bay establishes a legitimate revenue stream, that may well be the smart next step.

#PirateBay

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