Posts

Showing posts from November, 2018

Time to clean house at Wells Fargo

Image
Earlier this month, Wells Fargo, the third-largest bank in the United States, acknowledged that it improperly foreclosed on 545 distressed homeowners after they asked for help with their mortgages. The bank has exhibited a seemingly established pattern of negative behavior, from creating 3.5 million fake accounts to charging 570,000 customers for auto insurance they did not need to illegally repossessing vehicles from hundreds of service members. At the start of the year, Wells ranked 26 on the Fortune 500’s 2018 rankings of the largest U.S. corporations by total revenue. It is also the second-largest retail mortgage lender and the largest debit card issuer by purchase and transaction volume. These facts establish the bank as a systemically important financial institution. My firm’s economic models suggest that the next recession may very well start with a major hack at a SIFI like Wells Fargo. This underscores the importance of stemming the ongoing problems at Wells as quickly and

William Michael Cunningham on Impact Investing, Blockchain, and Crowdfunding

Image
September 2018 - 10 Questions William Michael Cunningham on Impact Investing, Blockchain, and Crowdfunding Interview by Carly Schulaka WHO: William Michael Cunningham WHAT: Economist, impact investing specialist, founder of Creative Investment Research WHAT'S ON HIS MIND: “Any finance professional in the U.S. should learn how to create a blockchain.” 1. You are an economist, an inventor, and an impact investing specialist. I’ve heard you say: “True innovation happens in a way that is independent of monetary returns.” How does this statement influence your work? It’s really about finding an interesting problem and applying financial technology to solving that problem or to dealing with that problem. You know, the people who invented the alphabet didn’t do so to make money. They had an interesting problem—communication on both a local and a grand scale—and if you were to calculate the social return for the invention of that technology or technique, it’s almost infinite. S

Opportunity Zones

Image
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017, created new tax incentives for investments in what are known as Opportunity Zones: targeted areas in the United States. Investments are made via Qualified Opportunity Funds, who are directed to promote economic development in 8,700 disadvantaged rural and urban (read Native, African American and Hispanic) communities (low-income census tracts selected by state governors and certified by the U.S. Treasury Department) by offering investors substantial federal tax advantages. As one analyst explained: "Assume an investor has a $1 million gain in Apple stocks and decides to sell. To keep it simple, let’s also assume the investor is in a 20 percent tax bracket, totaling $200,000 in capital gains tax. But instead of paying, the investor reinvests the $1 million in an Opportunity Fund. If the investor holds for more than 10 years: the investor pays ZERO capital gains tax on the appreciation of that asset." These benefits are only