News

How Fintech’s Third Wave Will Change How You Bank - Fortune

The origins of today’s boom in consumer-focused “fintech,” or financial technology, trace back to the global economic meltdown in 2008. Since that disaster struck, the industry has evolved through three discrete phases, says Jason Brown, CEO and cofounder of Tally, a fintech startup, on Balancing The Ledger, Fortune’s show covering the intersection of finance and tech. Fortune


Trump Advisers Exploring Tax Proposal to Lower ‘Middle Class’ Rate to 15 Percent - ABI

President Trump’s economic advisers are exploring whether the president should campaign for reelection proposing a 15 percent tax rate for the American middle class, the Washington Post reported. Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, is spearheading the effort behind Trump’s second tax cut package and is widely seen as a leading proponent of the new 15 percent rate. It is unclear if Trump has approved the idea, but the president has pushed aides to develop a simple tax message for 2020 focused on middle class tax relief. The White House has faced sharp criticism for its 2017 tax law, because its tax cuts for individuals and families will expire in a few years but the reductions for businesses are permanent. The new plan is unlikely to pass Congress before the 2020 election but would give the White House a specific plan to present to voters during next year’s presidential campaign. ABI


Auto loan originations near record high, as household debt soars - FOX Business

As U.S. household debt reaches a trillion-dollar milestone, more Americans are taking out vehicle loans. Auto loan balances increased by $18 billion in the third quarter, according to the household debt report released by the New York Fed on Wednesday, to $1.32 trillion. Auto loan originations — at $159 billion — were up slightly year over year, but volume is the second-highest ever recorded. “The data suggest that households are taking advantage of a low-interest-rate environment to secure credit,” Donghoon Lee, research officer at the New York Fed, said in a statement. FOX Business



Americans now have a record $14 trillion in debt - CNN Business

US households are now sitting on a record $14 trillion in mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other forms of debt. Household debt ticked up 0.7% during the third quarter, the New York Federal Reserve said on Wednesday, continuing a five-year climb encouraged by low unemployment, strong consumer confidence and cheap borrowing costs. CNN Business



More Borrowers Are Going Underwater on Car Loans - ABI

Consumers, salespeople and lenders are treating cars a lot like houses during the last financial crisis: by piling on debt to such a degree that it often exceeds the car’s value, the Wall Street Journal reported. This phenomenon — referred to as negative equity, or being underwater — can leave car owners trapped. Some 33 percent of people who traded in cars to buy new ones in the first nine months of 2019 had negative equity, compared with 28 percent five years ago and 19 percent a decade ago, according to car-shopping site Edmunds. Those borrowers owed about $5,000 on average after they traded in their cars, before taking on new loans. Five years ago the average was about $4,000. Rising car prices have exacerbated an affordability gap that is increasingly getting filled with auto debt. Easy lending standards are perpetuating the cycle, with lenders routinely making car loans with low or no down payments that can last seven years or longer. (Subscription required.) ABI


Retirees’ Mandatory IRA Withdrawals Would Shrink Under Treasury Plan - ABI

Retirees could take smaller mandatory withdrawals from their tax-advantaged accounts under a new Treasury Department proposal designed to adjust for rising life expectancy, the Wall Street Journal reported. If finalized, the rules would take effect in 2021, reducing tax collections and letting more money accumulate in tax-preferred accounts. The change amounts to a tax cut for retirees who don’t need to tap their savings for living expenses. According to an example in the regulations, a 70-year-old with a $250,000 retirement account would be required to withdraw $8,591 instead of $9,124. A 75-year-old with a $500,000 balance could reduce that year’s withdrawals — and thus taxable income — by about $1,500, according to Ed Slott, an accountant in Rockville Centre, N.Y., who specializes in retirement accounts. ABI


Lawmakers Increase Criticism of ‘Opportunity Zone’ Tax Break - NY Times

Lawmakers are voicing mounting concerns about a federal tax incentive, known as an “opportunity zone,” that is supposed to encourage investors to pump money into the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, the New York Times reported. Leading Democrats in the House and Senate have sent a flurry of letters demanding answers and action by federal agencies after recent New York Times articles detailed how wealthy investors and real estate developers, including those with ties to the Trump administration, are poised to profit on the initiative. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said he was introducing legislation this week that would eliminate hundreds of opportunity zones in relatively wealthy neighborhoods. Other lawmakers have written letters to Mnuchin and called for investigations by the Treasury Department’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office. The tax incentive is supposed to help struggling communities by attracting new businesses, housing and other real estate projects. If investors with capital gains — profits on stocks, real estate or other assets that have increased in value — invest them in one of nearly 8,800 opportunity zones, they get a discount on their capital gains tax bill, as well as the potential to avoid any future capital gains taxes if the new investment increases in value. While the incentive has driven money into economically ailing cities including Erie, Pa., and Birmingham, Ala., much of the money has gone to projects that were already planned or being built in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in places like Houston, Miami and New Orleans. NY Times


Senators Push Bipartisan Fix to Coal Miners’ Pensions - ABI

A dozen U.S. Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are backing legislation to shore up a pension plan covering 92,000 retired coal miners that has been depleted during a brutal downturn in the coal industry, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Sens. McConnell (R-Ky.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced a bill yesterday that would transfer excess money from an abandoned mine reclamation fund to a United Mine Workers of America multiemployer pension plan. Without an infusion of public funds, the pension fund is projected to become insolvent by its 2022 plan year. U.S. coal companies that once supported the plan have dropped out over the years as they went bankrupt and sold their assets to new owners. Murray Energy Corp., which filed for bankruptcy last month, is the last major contributor still paying into the pension plan. Now Murray, too, may leave. If the pension plan becomes insolvent, the U.S. government’s pension insurer would be required to step in and cover benefits up to certain caps. The legislation is backed by nine Democratic and three Republican senators. In addition to shoring up the pension plan, it would also give miners whose companies went bankrupt since last year access to medical benefits that Congress established in 2017. ABI