MReport March 2017

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TH E M R EP O RT | 59 O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T GOVERNMENT CFPB Battle Heats Up on Multiple Fronts Several attorneys general are fighting to maintain the bureau's leadership structure after a court ruled the bureau's director could be removed without cause by the president. O pponents and support- ers are drawing battle lines in a struggle over the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), with the furor over the already- embattled agency only growing after the 2016 election. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced in late January that she was joining a coalition of 16 other attorneys general to intervene in a federal appeals court case concerning the constitutionality of the CFPB. The case in question, PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saw the court vacate a $103 million fine the bureau imposed on PHH and further ruled that restric - tions on the president's ability to remove the bureau's director were unconstitutional. The bureau filed a petition for rehearing of the deci - sion before the entire D.C. Circuit Court, and that petition is cur- rently pending before the court. The argument has coalesced into larger questions regarding the bureau's continued existence in 2017 and beyond, with lawmakers at all levels of government taking aim at it and its director, Richard Cordray. "The CFPB has been a critical partner to Massachusetts in pro - tecting students, homeowners, the elderly, veterans and all consum- ers against unfair, deceptive and abusive financial practices and products," Healey said in January. "My office and other states are joining together to protect the new consumer agency and the Wall Street Reform Act because the Trump administration has made it clear that it intends to weaken the agency." The attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia joined Healey in argu - ing the court's ruling, if allowed to stand, would undermine the power of state attorneys general to protect consumers against abuse in the consumer finance industry and would significantly weaken the bureau's independence from politi - cal pressure and the president. Meanwhile, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) filed a bill to amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to change the bureau's leadership from a single director to a five-person bipartisan board of directors. Fischer introduced a similar bill in 2014, which was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs but went no further. "The CFPB has an enormous amount of influence impacting all sectors of our economy and every consumer nationwide," Fischer said in 2014 after introducing that bill. "Decisions governing such a powerful agency should reflect input from all sides, rather than placing broad regulatory authority in the hands of a single unelected official with little oversight from Congress." The American Bankers Association expressed its support for Fischer's bill, calling CFPB reform a key element in its 2017 Blueprint For Growth. "Well-intentioned but overly prescriptive regulation, along with overzealous enforcement, can be counterproductive, inhibiting banks' ability to offer products and services that their customers want and need," said the ABA in their blueprint. "Policies must strike the right balance between ensuring fundamental standards are met and offering providers flexibility to meet the specific needs of their clients, customers and communities." Blackstone serves Fannie Mae's commitment to find new ways to meet the changing needs of families. Invitation Homes went public in January with the filing of its S-11 form to the Securities Exchange Commission. Invitation homes indicated in the filing it has elected to qualify as a real estate investment trust (REIT) for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Invitation Homes plans to become a Maryland corpora - tion after the completion of the offering, according to the filing. "After the completion of this of- fering, affiliates of The Blackstone Group LP will continue to own a majority of the voting power of shares eligible to vote in the elec- tion of our directors," Invitation Homes stated in the filing. "As a result, we will be a 'controlled company' within the meaning of the corporate governance stan - dards of the NYSE." The company said in its filing that it spent roughly $1.2 billion in renovating the homes in its portfolio, at an average of approxi - mately $25,000 per home. "Our portfolio benefits from high occupancy and low turnover rates, and we are well-positioned to drive strong rent growth, at - tractive margins and predictable cash flows," the company said. However, not all response to the news of Fannie Mae's action was favorable. Robert Grossinger, President of the nonprofit National Community Stabilization Trust, said he was confused by the GSE's decision. "These investors so far have had no trouble financing the purchase of tens of thousands of homes without government support," Grossinger said. "But if Fannie Mae determines that a tax - payer subsidy of the private sector is necessary, at the very least the arrangement with Invitation Homes should contain provi- sions that strengthen protections for tenants living in these homes, support affordability, and prohibit the predatory rent-to-own and installment contract arrangements that are becoming increasingly common in the single-family rental market." "The CFPB has been a critical partner to Massachusetts in protecting students, homeowners, the elderly, veterans and all consumers against unfair, deceptive and abusive financial practices and products." —Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General

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