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You might think that the last thing worth understanding in the middle of running battles in the streets and a public-health crisis in our hospitals is bank regulatory policy. You would be wrong, however, as finance looms over our national crises and our efforts to solve and recover from them. Recent events at an agency that’s obscure to most Americans epitomize not only the corruption and venality at the heart of the Trump administration, but the hurdles to rebuilding that we can expect. That agency is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a division of the Treasury Department. It’s the lead regulator for nationally chartered banks. The Treasury Secretary, effectively the hiring manager for this position, is Steve Mnuchin, who was the CEO (briefly) and then chair of OneWest Bank. Until last week, the head of OCC was Joseph Otting, who also happened to have been Mnuchin’s replacement as CEO of OneWest Bank. And starting Monday, Otting’s provisional successor as the acting comptroller of the currency is Brian Brooks, former chief legal officer and vice chair of … OneWest Bank. OneWest was created out of the ashes of failed subprime lender IndyMac, which Mnuchin led a consortium of billionaire financiers to buy in 2008 through a special deal with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that covered losses past a certain threshold, while allowing the bank to profit from foreclosure-related charges. OneWest was notorious for using this to ruthlessly foreclose on borrowers while routinely violating foreclosure laws, and the firm doubled in value within six years. Mnuchin has lied about this ugly history repeatedly while in office. So just at that level, these OneWest honchos are really not the people you want in top regulatory positions during a potential new foreclosure wave. But what Otting and now Brooks have spent their time on at OCC makes things even worse.
The nation’s top aviation regulator is going back to Capitol Hill to explain the government’s oversight of the Boeing 737 Max, which remains grounded after two deadly crashes. The Senate Commerce Committee said Tuesday that Federal Aviation Administration chief Stephen Dickson will appear before the panel June 17. Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Ala., introduced legislation Tuesday that would direct the FAA to reconsider assumptions it makes about how quickly pilots respond to warning signs. The measure would also require the FAA to review its own ability to understand new technology in highly automated modern planes. Max planes have been grounded worldwide since March 2019 after 346 people were killed in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The FAA has come under scrutiny for its reliance on Boeing employees to test and approve critical systems, including the flight-control software that played a role in both Max crashes.
California’s attorney general on Tuesday submitted proposed regulations for approval under the state’s new digital privacy law, which gives Americans the right to request that their data be deleted from e-commerce websites and social media. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), effective since the start of 2020, is a key piece of regulation overseeing the data collection practices of U.S. companies. It allows state residents to opt out of having data sold to third parties. The law affects a broad swath of companies, from Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to retailers like Walmart and Amazon.com Inc. The regulations have been submitted to the California Office of Administrative Law and upon approval will be filed with the Secretary of State and become enforceable, Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said in a statement.