Wells Fargo to pay $1B for mortgage, auto lending abuses

NEW YORK — Wells Fargo will pay $1 billion to federal regulators to settle charges tied to its mortgage and auto lending business, the latest chapter in a wide-ranging scandal at the banking giant. However, it appears that none of the $1 billion will go directly the victims of Wells Fargo’s abuses.

Wells will pay $500 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, its main national bank regulator, as well as a net $500 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The action by the CFPB is notable because it is the first penalty imposed by the bureau under Mick Mulvaney, who President Trump appointed to take over the consumer watchdog agency in late November. The $500 million is also the largest penalty imposed by the CFPB in its history, and matches the largest fine ever handed out by the Comptroller of the Currency.

The fine against Wells Fargo had been expected. The company disclosed last week that it was in discussions with federal authorities over a possible settlement related to its mortgage and auto lending businesses, and that the fine could be as much as $1 billion.

“While we have more work to do, these orders affirm that we share the same priorities with our regulators and that we are committed to working with them as we deliver our commitments with focus, accountability, and transparency,” said Wells Fargo Chief Executive Tim Sloan in a statement.

The $500 million paid to the Comptroller of the Currency will be paid directly to the U.S. Treasury, according to the order. The $500 million paid to the CFPB will go into the CFPB’s civil penalties fund, which is used to help consumers who might have been impacted in other cases.

But zero dollars of either penalty is going directly to Wells Fargo’s victims, and the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Off Topic: Another (14th) boy, a cat’s long walk home, exorcisms, cheesesteaks and soda for a last meal

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It’s a boy! And another boy! And a…What? A 14th boy and still no girls?…After walking 12 miles home, this cat was probably expecting a warmer welcome…Want to learn how to perform your own exorcisms? Bring your mobile phone along…Two Philly cheesesteaks and two Dr. Peppers. That was the last meal of the oldest Death Row inmate ever put to death in the U.S.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Former Forbes reporter offers proof that Trump has wildly inflated his wealth for decades

When Forbes launched the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982, Donald Trump made the cut at $100 million. He and his lawyer Roy Cohn complained to Forbes that $100 million was too small, Jonathan Greenberg, an investigative journalist who interviewed Trump for the issue, recounts in The Washington Post, but decades later, he learned that “Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million” and “should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all.” In 1984, when Trump was pushing to be labeled a billionaire, Greenberg got a call from “John Barron,” who assured Greenberg that Trump owned virtually all of his father Fred’s real estate assets.

We now know that “John Barron” was Trump’s alter-ego — and that Trump is still obsessed with his Forbes ranking — and Greenberg writes that when he recently rediscovered the tapes, “I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse.” In fact, according to Fred Trump’s will, he retained 100 percent ownership of his residential empire until his death in 1999. And instead of the 25,000 residential units Donald Trump claimed his family owned, valued at $20,000-$40,000 each, there were 8,000 to 10,000 units, each worth about $9,000, Greenberg said. He added that this deceit mattered:

I was a determined 25-year-old reporter, and I thought that, by reeling Trump back from some of his more outrageous claims, I’d done a public service and exposed the truth. But his confident deceptions were so big that they had an unexpected effect: Instead of believing that they were outright fabrications, my Forbes colleagues and I saw them simply as vain embellishments on the truth. We were so wrong. This was a model Trump would use for the rest of his career, telling a lie so …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


How America can win its tech war with China

The U.S.-China trade throwdown isn’t just about helping “American steel,” protecting Corporate America’s intellectual property, reducing bilateral trade deficits, or really much of what President Trump typically tweets about. To focus exclusively on tariffs or international investment flows misses the big picture.

What’s actually playing out on a global stage is an escalating conflict to be the technological leader and thus leading economic superpower of the 21st century.

Beijing made its fighting intent clear in 2015 when it announced its goal to create “national champions” in 10 high-tech manufacturing sectors by 2025. Since then, it has expanded its ambitions with a strategic plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence, a technology that a recent McKinsey Global Institute report called the “transformational technology of our digital age.”

Understanding the nature of this conflict makes it clear why the Trump administration’s recent tariff plan targeted those strategic “Made in China” high-tech sectors. Also part of the clash was Washington’s moves this week to stop the sale of Huawei telecommunications gear by U.S. telecom carriers and bar ZTE from buying U.S.-made components for seven years, perhaps crippling that company. “We are in a new cold war with Beijing to retain control of the technology critical to the modern economy,” Richard Staropoli, chief information officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recently wrote in the Financial Times.

To many, this story may sound familiar. Before China there was Japan, a rising Asian power that 1980s America saw as an existential threat to its economic and technological supremacy. Politicians campaigned against trade deficits and campaigned on “economic patriotism.” Think tanks put out reports advising America to move away from its old-fashioned free-market thinking and embrace …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


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