This is a long article – so I’ll list the important info here:
• One proposal being pushed by the White House takes aim at industrial loan companies, which are allowed under their state-issued charters to collect federally insured deposits, offer credit cards, make loans and process financial transactions without facing as much scrutiny as traditional banks regulated by the U.S. government.
• President Barack Obama wants companies with ILC charters to register as bank-holding companies with the Federal Reserve. That would put them in the same regulatory category as Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., subjecting the non-banks to much greater government oversight.
• If that happens, most companies with ILC charters likely would close them down, potentially shutting off another source of credit for consumers, industry experts predict. That’s because the companies might not be able to satisfy the Fed’s capital and other requirements, and thus would be ineligible to become bank-holding companies, or they would balk at heavier regulation.
I’ll keep this short – because it’s obvious what is happening here. Who would gain regulatory authority over these firms under this proposal? The Federal Reserve. Are you beginning to see where these new regulatory proposals are leading?
Our entire financial system is being consolidated under one authority. This alone should cause us concern. A private bank (a small group of powerful interests) should never be given absolute economic power over the people of the United States. This is why our founders wrote the Constitution – to prevent this very thing from happening.
The even bigger issue is that this authority is controlled by people who have one, overriding objective – a one world socialist government.
jg – June 19, 2009
JUNE 19, 2009
Corporate Lenders Get Hit
Financial-Oversight Bill Snags Loan Arms of Harley, Target; Girding for Battle
By DAVID ENRICH and ROBIN SIDEL
Wall St. Journal
Target Corp., Harley-Davidson Inc., Pitney Bowes Inc. and dozens of other companies that aren’t banks but pitch loans and other financial products are being squeezed by the Obama administration’s financial-overhaul plan.
One proposal being pushed by the White House takes aim at industrial loan companies, which are allowed under their state-issued charters to collect federally insured deposits, offer credit cards, make loans and process financial transactions without facing as much scrutiny as traditional banks regulated by the U.S. government.
President Barack Obama wants companies with ILC charters to register as bank-holding companies with the Federal Reserve. That would put them in the same regulatory category as Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., subjecting the non-banks to much greater government oversight.
If that happens, most companies with ILC charters likely would close them down, potentially shutting off another source of credit for consumers, industry experts predict. That’s because the companies might not be able to satisfy the Fed’s capital and other requirements, and thus would be ineligible to become bank-holding companies, or they would balk at heavier regulation.
As of last month, there were 45 ILCs with combined assets of $232.3 billion, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That is equivalent in size to the 11th-largest U.S. bank, or slightly smaller than regional bank U.S. Bancorp.
Though relatively small players in the financial system, ILCs provide a wide variety of products and services to businesses and consumers. The offerings range from financing purchases of Harley motorcycles to loans that cover corporate medical payments to insurers. Eliminating or sharply curtailing those operations could make it harder or costlier for customers to get credit.
In its “white paper” outlining the reform package, the administration said the existence of ILCs and other non-bank charters have allowed certain institutions “to obtain access to the federal safety net,” namely through insured deposits, while avoiding oversight by the Fed. The administration argues that in order for a regulator to be sufficiently powerful, it has to be able to see all the risks, and thus oversee all companies that provide financial services.
ILCs provide a wide variety of products and services, from financing purchases of Harley motorcycles to loans for corporate medical payments.
That’s setting the stage for a showdown on Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers and banking groups are vowing to fight the ILC provision, which they see as an overzealous attempt to create a level regulatory playing field at the expense of companies that didn’t play major roles in the financial crisis.
“There is not a single ILC that contributed to the crisis,” said Sen. Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, at a hearing Thursday with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “You’re going to wipe them out as a source of credit, take them out of the marketplace where they’re providing niche credit for people that don’t otherwise get it.”
Mr. Geithner responded that the change is meant to eliminate “gaps and loopholes” in financial regulation. But he said the administration is open to negotiating the plank with lawmakers. “We’re going to have to work to try to persuade you of the merits of these proposals and take your concerns into consideration,” Mr. Geithner said.
The brewing fight over the ILC proposal, tucked into a single paragraph in an 88-page document released Wednesday, is an early indicator of the intense scrutiny that the Obama administration’s reform plan will encounter as lawmakers and industry groups pore over its details. In addition to policy disputes, lawmakers are looking to protect local industries. Utah, for example, is home to most of the nation’s ILCs, although California, Nevada and other states also are popular destinations for the charters. Only a handful of states offer ILC charters, and for those that do, they can be a source of tax revenue.
Howard Headlee, president of the Utah Bankers Association, called the Obama administration proposal “extremely misguided” and said it would force many ILCs to shut down. But he said he’s optimistic that lawmakers will kill the provision. “I’m confident that congressmen will see how foolish it is to be destroying sources of credit in this economy.”
If the provision becomes law, the implications could be far-reaching. A diverse array of companies — including Target, Pitney Bowes, UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc. and CMS Energy Corp. — have Utah-based financing arms with ILC charters.
The companies use the charters to provide financial services that complement their main businesses and can be a source of profits. For example, Target, the Minneapolis-based retailer, uses its Target Bank subsidiary to extend credit to shoppers. UnitedHealth’s OptumHealth Bank Inc. administers health-savings accounts and offers loans to cover medical payments, as does WellPoint’s Arcus Financial Bank. EnerBank USA, a unit of Jackson, Mich.-based CMS Energy, finances home-improvement and energy loans nationwide. Pitney Bowes Bank Inc. allows businesses to prepay or borrow funds for postage costs.
Most of those companies said they were studying the administration’s proposal and that it would be premature to comment. Pitney Bowes, which established its ILC in 1998, said it “will work to educate Congress about their role in providing credit for commercial activity — something that is even more important during the current recession. We think it is important that these services continue.”
The obscure banking charters, originally created in the early 1900s to provide loans to industrial workers, have been a sporadic source of controversy for years.
Federal Reserve officials, including ex-Chairman Alan Greenspan, have warned about the perils of allowing traditional commercial businesses to have banking operations. One concern is that the banking portion of the business could be at risk if, say, the retailing side went under. There are also competitive issues if giant companies use their existing customer base to crowd out traditional banks.
In 2006, ILCs were thrust into an especially bright spotlight after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. applied for a charter to process credit-card transactions. Banks waged an aggressive lobbying campaign to derail the retailing behemoth’s application, arguing that it was laying the groundwork for a foray into retail banking.
Amid the mounting furor, the FDIC imposed a moratorium on new applications for ILC charters, to allow Congress time to debate whether to change the law. Wal-Mart withdrew its application.
In May 2007, the U.S. House passed a bill that would subject ILCs to greater federal oversight and bar the charters from being granted to nonfinancial firms. The bill died in the Senate.
—Damian Paletta and Ann Zimmerman contributed to this article.
Write to David Enrich at firstname.lastname@example.org and Robin Sidel at email@example.com
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1