The Continuing Saga of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Dealer Interest Rate Markup on Car Loans, Part Two
That happy couple at the car dealership, back by popular demand.
Since we last reported on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its controversial crusade to uncover racial discrimination by car dealers on interest rate markup on automobile loans, the agency has ordered over $100 million in fines and settlements against banks that some have deemed extortion. This has infuriated lenders and car dealers, and has frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The tale continued last week as the House Committee on Financial Services revealed that their work on this case now includes trying to get the CFPB and Department of Justice to agree on that age-old problem on how to get white car buyers to admit that they are actually white.
Let us review this investigation, which recently prompted the House committee to publish a report about the CFPB probe, titled “Unsafe at Any Bureaucracy: CFPB Junk Science and Indirect Auto Lending.”
The hammer has fallen on captive automotive lenders, such as GM Financial, Ford Motor Credit and Toyota Financial Services: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began officially asserting its authority over them as the feds and the lenders battle over allegations of discrimination in the latter’s loan products.
Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, a survey by AutoTrader found 51 percent of auto consumers were less confident in the industry’s overall safety record as a result of the actions by GM, up from 44 percent who thought the same five days’ earlier. In addition, the automaker will take a $400 million charge in Q2 2014 for the recalls since April 1 as of this writing, while its current stock price of $33.07 per share is a few cents above its IPO price from November 2010.
Uncertainty on auto lending rules resulting from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s methodology behind consent orders issued to lenders found overcharging or otherwise misleading minority borrowers has prompted calls from the National Automobile Dealers Association and the House Financial Services Committee for a detailed explanation from the bureau on said methodology.
Just as total auto loan balances in Q4 2013 climb to $798.5 billion, the United States Chamber of Commerce has called upon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to draw up a detailed compliance guide for auto lenders returning to the fray.
The Continuing Saga Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau And Dealer Interest Rate Markup On Car Loans
It is no surprise that U.S. automobile dealers have been in a tizzy the past few months as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been rattling its swords threatening to ban them from marking up interest rates on car loans, a sacred profit center for dealerships. Using methodology that assumes a person’s race can be determined by their last name and their gender by their first name, the CFPB claims that certain protected classes are being discriminated against in terms of being charged higher interest rates and thus the practice must stop.
What is a surprise is that Congress is equally annoyed with the agency’s strategy and lack of transparency, and recently announced new regulations limiting their power. No matter the outcome, there is a real possibility that the unintended consequences of the CFPB’s actions will be higher car loan rates for you.
U.S. DoJ, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigate Toyota, Honda, Other Automakers' Credit Arms For Lending Bias
According to regulatory filings by Toyota Motor Credit Corp., the giant automaker’s car financing arm, and American Honda Finance Corp., which fills a similar role for Honda, the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice are investigating major auto manufacturers for possible lending bias based on race, which would be a violation of the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act. According to Bloomberg, the agencies are looking into how loans that the automakers’ credit companies provide to auto dealers are priced. Bloomberg reports that as many as seven car companies have been asked for data that may be related to the borrowers’ races and interest rates charged. Both government agencies declined to comment on the matter.
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