Hard Questions on Data Privacy

By Karen Petrou

On February 13, bipartisan Senate Banking leadership asked for views on how best to craft a new consumer-data privacy and security framework.  Reflecting 2017’s Equifax debacle, the inquiry seems rooted in the credit-reporting framework.  Essential though it is, data-integrity fixes for the credit bureaus aren’t anywhere near sufficient protection now that consumer financial data are increasingly clutched in the hands of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and an array of lightly- or un-regulated technology-based consumer-finance providers.  As we have demonstrated, sustainable, sound, and fair consumer credit is critical to economic equality.  Continue reading “Hard Questions on Data Privacy”

More Ways to Make an Equality Bank Make a Difference

After we last year proposed “Equality Banks,” ideas flooded in on possible charters.  We also heard from those who so distrust any venture involving private finance that they believe only a public bank suffices to ensure fair delivery of equality-essential deposit, loan, and payment products.  In this blog post, we build on prior work to lay out an array of charter options suitable for different types of Equality Banks owned by different types of financial or private investors.  We reiterate our worries about public banks, adding to our prior evaluation of state and municipal efforts with an analysis of “low-income” credit unions and of the only equality-focused federal public bank to date.  Each of these well-intentioned initiatives in fact made U.S. inequality a little bit worse, providing important lessons as progressive Democrats ready a raft of proposals not only to craft public banks, but also even to make the Postal Service or Federal Reserve become one. Continue reading “More Ways to Make an Equality Bank Make a Difference”

Making “Responsible Innovation” a Reality: Big Tech, Small Money, and U.S. Economic Equality

By Federal Financial Analytics

FedFin has just released a new policy paper laying out how emerging risks in unregulated tech-based financial products may threaten U.S. economic inequality.  It’s not that regulated institutions have always done that much better, but rather that the power of big data, predictive modeling, and far-flung commercial interests combines with tech-firm culture in still more dangerous ways far outside the reach of effective controls or meaningful enforcement.  Continue reading “Making “Responsible Innovation” a Reality: Big Tech, Small Money, and U.S. Economic Equality”

Gross Domestic Product and U.S. Inequality

By Karen Petrou

On January 22, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and 18 senior House Democrats reintroduced legislation (now H.R. 707) requiring federal statisticians to provide an equality-focused insight into the gross domestic product (GDP) number all too often considered the arbiter of American prosperity.  Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the same bill last year and are sure to do it again and, then to join Maloney in pressing for action.  This time, it will come quickly in the House and may well pass the Senate in this Congress.  Would it make an equality difference?  No, but at least we’d know more clearly how much trouble we’re in.
Continue reading “Gross Domestic Product and U.S. Inequality”

Economic Inequality, Financial Crises, and 2019

By Karen Petrou

As 2018 drew to a close, the Federal Reserve Board and the Financial Stability Oversight Council each pronounced financial-stability risk to be comfortingly “moderate,” much as Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson did in August of 2008.  It remains to be seen if market turmoil just days after is more than a bad blip, but there’s a still more worrisome financial-crisis risk lurking beneath volatile financial markets:  U.S. economic inequality.  Here, we show how current, acute inequality makes 2019 particularly perilous even if markets stabilize, President Trump eschews Twitter, the federal government begins anew, and all seems somehow otherwise right with the world. Continue reading “Economic Inequality, Financial Crises, and 2019”