emember the NCUAtaxi debacle?
It seems like a century ago when the agencyunloaded an undisclosed numberof New York City taxi medallionsto Marblegate Asset Managementfor an undisclosed amount ofmoney.
And it seems like a decade agowhen I wrote about how the agency refused to answer most questions about the sale and insteadtold me to file a request for agencyrecords under the Freedom of Information Act.
I dutifully filed that request.And patiently (OK, maybe not sopatiently) waited.
And last month, the NCUA responded. And the response told menothing more than I already knew.
Here’s a portion of the agency’s
letter: “Your request is granted in
part. We have attached three full
pages of the responsive agency re-
cords. There are 314 other pages,
withheld in full.”
Those withheld pages included
things like: How money taxi medal-
lions were sold and for how much?
On what basis did the NCUA,a federal agency, decide to use asecret process to award a bid thatinvolved hundreds of billions ofdollars?
The agency gave a few reasonswhy it considers the answers tosuch questions to be classified.
For some of the material, the
NCUA’s FOIA office said docu-
ments were exempt in an effort to
protect “trade secrets and com-
mercial or financial information
obtained by a person that is privi-
leged or confidential.”
Other documents were exempt
from public view because they
were memoranda or letters, which
would not be available by law to a
party other than an agency in liti-
gation with the agency.
And some documents were
exempt because they protected
“matters that are contained in or
related to examination, operating
or condition reports prepared by,
on behalf of or for the use of an
agency responsible for the regu-
lation or supervision of financial
Now, I’m not a lawyer (some
would say I’m barely a journalist),
but it seems to me that the agency
should be subject to some level of
The taxi medallion loan debaclealready has cost the NCUA ShareInsurance Fund almost $800million.
In the broad scheme of thecoronavirus crisis, the taxi debacle seems really small.
Still, it seems like the agencyshould have to answer questionslike that.
Lots of Credit
In these hard times, people maybe having trouble obtaining newcredit.
But that hasn’t hit trade groupsasking Congress and the TrumpAdministration for provisions inlaw or regulations that they saywill help the average American.
Oh yeah, it might just help thetrade group seeking the provisionas well.
And when trade groups getsomething they want, they allclaim credit for getting it, regardless of how many other groupswere seeking the same thing.
One small example: Financial
institutions were seeking a rule
change that would allow, under
all circumstances, consumers to
make more than six transactions
from their savings account each
They argued that the so-calledRegulation D keeps folks from immediately obtaining money fromtheir savings accounts.
The Federal Reserve recentlyagreed to waive Reg D for a while.
Trade groups lined up to patthemselves on the back.
Here’s what CUNA had to say in
a statement: “CUNA/League Ad-
vocacy results in Fed removal of
Reg D account transfer limit.”
Wow, CUNA’s got a lot of power,
Well, here’s what NAFCU had
to say about the rule change: “Fed
heeds NAFCU’s call to eliminate
Reg D transaction limit.”
Of course, if credit
unions take credit for
thing, can the bankers
be far behind?
When the Fed announcement was made,the Independent Community Bankers ofAmerica issued a statement that in part said,“In a letter to the Fedlast month and in follow-up meetings, ICBAand community bankersadvocated suspendingthe Reg D restrictionsfor at least 12 monthsdue to the COVID- 19emergency.”
Books, Books andMore Books
aren’t buying books
anymore. They’re either us-
ing Nooks or Kindles or just not
But you couldn’t tell it basedon the television interviews withnewsmakers stuck at home duringthe coronavirus crisis.
It seemed like every talkinghead being interviewed sat infront of a bookcase with hundredsof books on them. They didn’tsound so smart, but they sure hada lot of books, so they must bebrilliant, right?
And it wasn’t just the intellectual folks.
Most of the time you couldn’tsee the titles of the books. But theywere there. By the hundreds.
Somebody bought them.
Whether they’ve read them isanother story.
For instance, some people maybuy a house with wall-to-wallbookcases. And they might hatereading.
My favorite bookstore in theworld, The Strand in Manhattan,has a solution for such problems(at least they did until the coronavirus forced them to temporarilyclose).
Books by the Foot.
You could order books by theircolor or by their style.
Another company, Booth &Williams, offers similar services.You can buy a foot of books with“Modern Blue Jay” spines. And soon.
So maybe those talking headson TV weren’t so smart after all.
While we’re on the subject ofsocial distancing, isn’t it sad thatthe decision of whether to wear aface mask has become a politicalstatement?
There are no silver linings in the
coronavirus crisis. But I’ll just
leave you with this:
At least the Baltimore Orioles
haven’t lost any games yet.
Stay safe, folks. n
Still No Answers
THE CU CAPITAL INSIDER
EMAIL comments to
‘It seemed like everytalking head beinginterviewed sat in frontof a bookcase withhundreds of books onthem. They didn’t soundso smart, but they surehad a lot of books, sothey must be brilliant,right?’