The Justice Department is issuing subpoenas to banks that provide services to a slew of suspect financial ventures, most notably online payday lenders.
Online payday lending--which involves smaller, short-term loans at high interest rates--totaled $18.6 billion in 2012, up 10 percent from 2011, accounting for nearly 40 percent of industry-wide payday-loan volume.
The Wall Street Journal’s Alan Zibel and Brent Kendall write, “Regulators are also trying tamp down phone and online offers in which marketers try to get people to pay for services that they don't intend to deliver. These can include offerings to erase debt or offerings of work-from-home programs that don't lead to jobs, officials say. ... The move is sparking complaints among online lenders who say the government is attempting to kill a legitimate and fast-growing industry." - Read more at The Wall Street Journal
JPMORGAN UNDER FEDERAL INVESTIGATION JPMorgan Chase—the country’s largest bank—disclosed that it’s under criminal investigation for selling the types of mortgage securities that contributed to the 2008 meltdown. Justice Department officials told the bank in May that prosecutors had "preliminarily concluded" that it violated civil securities laws from 2005 to 2007. - Read more at The Huffington Post
COBURN CLEARS WAY FOR CONFIRMATION VOTE Sen. Tom Coburn (R-KY) lifted his block on a vote to confirm President Obama’s nominee to lead the Office of Personnel Management, Katherine Archuleta, after the agency issued a proposed rule stating that Obamacare would not stick members of Congress and their staff with higher health insurance costs.
Last week, Coburn said he would block Archuleta’s confirmation vote until the Obama administration would clarify how the president’s signature healthcare law would affect the legislative branch.
On Friday, a White House official said that the federal government would continue contributing to legislative branch employee’s health plans, after many on Capitol Hill worried that the shift from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to the state run health care insurance exchanges under Obamacare would be too expensive. - Read more at GovExec
CHINESE EXPORTS RISE The world’s second largest economy is stabilizing after two slow quarters. New data for July shows that exports rose 5.1 percent from last year, beating expectations and bouncing back from June’s 3.1 percent drop. Imports also increased 10.9 percent, leaving China with a trade surplus of $17.8 billion.
“Many people were worried that China’s economy would drop very fast in a short period of time,” Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Hong Kong-based Nomura Holdings, told Bloomberg. “But now it seems that the real economy hasn’t been seriously impacted. The risk that the real economy will decline rapidly is lower.” - Read more at Bloomberg
OBAMA WANTS TO ELIMINATE INCOME INEQUALITY...BY SPENDING LESS? The president has repeatedly said that his highest priority is fixing income inequality, but his budget blueprint for 2014 suggests otherwise. In fact, the president’s plan actually spends less on discretionary spending (for medical research, education, consumer safety, food stamps, infrastructure, etc.) than his predecessors. The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak writes, “Over the next 10 years, the 2014 Obama budget blueprint would fund these programs at an average of 3 percent of gross domestic product... according to White House budget tables, that’s a full percentage point cut from the previous decade—when many of these economic equality problems were festering.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times