Banking & Finance

Schumer wants to know how many journalists will be fired if hedge fund takes over USA TODAY
Senate minority leader has written to president of Alden Global Capital about bidding for Gannett

Senate Minority Leader Chharles E. Schumer is concerned about a hedge fund's attempt to take control of USA TODAY's parent company. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants to know how many journalists a hedge fund intends to lay off if it manages to take control of the publisher of USA TODAY.

The attempt by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital to take control of the newspaper publisher Gannett has the attention of the New York senator, who is expressing concern about the ability of the public to have access to local news.

Treasury official doubts fintech needs payment system overhaul
Analysis appeared in blog

Matt Swinehart, a senior counsel at the Treasury Department, says a massive “regulatory rethink” for financial technology won’t be required. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior Treasury Department official is challenging the idea that rapidly evolving financial technology will require a sweeping overhaul of rules governing payment services and the electronic transfer of funds between consumers, banks, merchants and others.

In a recent analysis, Matt Swinehart, a senior counsel at Treasury, said a massive “regulatory rethink” of payment services won’t be required because many rules and standards governing payments are what he called technology neutral. The analysis appeared on a blog about the intersection between financial technology and government policy. Swinehart and the Treasury Department declined an interview request about his statements.

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have championed the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on big banks to help workers during government shutdowns
In letters shared first with Roll Call, Warren said inquiries could be particularly important if ‘agreement in principle’ falls apart

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up the pressure on big banks. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers work to avoid another partial government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up pressure on big banks to make sure they help federal employees and contractors, especially if the “agreement in principle” falls apart.

“We are now less than a week away from the February 15 deadline to fund the government, and President Trump has threatened to drag the American public through a shutdown for a second time,” the Democrat from Massachusetts wrote in a series of new letters shared first with Roll Call.

SEC seeks private vendors to translate blockchain data
The commission wants to hire a private vendor to gather data from the “most widely used blockchain ledgers” to help it police digital assets

Reps. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., talk before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled “Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission” on June 21, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to hire a private vendor to gather data from the “most widely used blockchain ledgers” to help it police digital assets.

The agency didn’t name the ledgers but its requirement that they be widely used suggests the SEC would include those underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum.

Housing finance agency confirmation hearing could involve dueling mortgage plans
The Senate Banking hearing could show the likely direction of efforts to overhaul agencies that are huge players in the national mortgage market

Ranking member Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., attend a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,” on December 11, 2018. Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, testified. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s still undisclosed plans to end the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be a focus of upcoming confirmation hearings for the nominee of the federal agency overseeing the two government sponsored enterprises.

Democrats such as Senate Banking ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have said they’re concerned about the suitability of Mark Calabria, the nominee to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The committee hasn’t said when it will hold a hearing on Calabria’s nomination.

House passes cryptocurrency, insider trading bills
Measures were delayed by debate over spending proposals

The House has passed three bills related to cryptocurrency and insider trading. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

After a week of shutdown-related delays, the House has passed three financial services bills that had been expected to receive floor votes early last week, but were delayed as the House debated spending proposals.

Lawmakers agreed by voice vote Monday to pass under suspension of the rules a bill  co-sponsored by Reps. Ted Budd, a North Carolina Republican, and Stephen F. Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, that would create an interagency task force led by the Treasury secretary to research how new financial technology, or fintech, is being used in financial crimes and terrorism, and develop regulatory and legislative responses. The bill would also establish a grant fund for programs and ideas for preventing terrorists and other bad actors from using cryptocurrencies for nefarious ends.

Financial utility turns to blockchain for credit derivatives
DTCC warehouse processes 98 percent of credit derivative transactions globally

An LED sign outside the D Las Vegas on Jan. 22, 2014, advertises that the property now accepts bitcoin. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

Bitcoin’s price took a beating last year, but blockchain, the technology that underpins the digital currency, continues to gain prominence in the financial industry, with the latest sign of interest coming from a financial utility company that’s adopting it for a derivatives platform.

The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., which is owned by several large financial firms, is working on a project in which a distributed ledger like blockchain will be used for processing what’s known as credit derivatives trades. DTCC is the custodian for many of the securities owned by investors, and safeguards transactions against default by either counterparty.

House to take up three bills to curb cryptocurrency abuses
One measure would create interagency task force

Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., is cosponsoring a bill that would create an interagency task force led by the Treasury secretary to research financial crimes and terrorism, including those using cryptocurrency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is expected to take up and pass a trio of bills that focus on cryptocurrency’s ability to facilitate illicit activities.

The three bills were introduced in the last Congress and easily passed the full House with bipartisan support before stalling in the Senate. Two of the bills center on how new financial technology, or fintech, could be used by terrorists, and the third looks at fintech’s use in sex and drug trafficking.

CFPB asks Congress for authority to sniff out predatory military lenders
Previous director piqued Democrats when he said the bureau doesn’t yet have legal standing to audit firms

Kathy Kraninger, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, submitted a legislative proposal to “clarify” the bureau’s authority to supervise compliance with a military lending law. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

The leader of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is asking Congress to give the agency explicit authority to examine financial services companies for compliance with a law that caps how much a creditor can charge military servicemembers for loans.

In letters sent Thursday to Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger submitted a legislative proposal to “clarify” the bureau’s authority to supervise compliance with a military lending law designed to protect servicemembers from certain lending practices that may be considered predatory.