Overnight Finance

On The Money: Tax, loan documents for Trump properties reportedly showed inconsistencies | Tensions flare as Dems hammer Trump consumer chief | Critics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles

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THE BIG DEAL--Tax and loan documents for Trump properties showed inconsistencies: 

Tax and loan documents for two of President Trump's New York City properties showed discrepancies in how some occupancy figures, expenses and profits were reported, ProPublica reported Wednesday.

ProPublica obtained property tax documents for four of Trump's New York properties that were public because Trump appealed the tax bills. The news outlet then compared the tax documents with loan records that became public when Trump's lender sold debt on the properties.

 

What they found: 

  • Real estate experts told the news outlet that there can be legitimate reasons for figures to differ between tax and loan documents, but that they didn't see obvious explanations for some of the discrepancies with Trump's properties. 
  • ProPublica said that the Trump Organization didn't comment on the record to the news outlet's detailed questions.

 

Why it matters: Trump is involved in multiple lawsuits in an effort to prevent House Democrats and New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns and financial records.

At a congressional hearing earlier this year, the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said that Trump would inflate the value of his assets for insurance purposes and deflate the value for tax purposes.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) oversight with agency Director Kathy Kraninger, 10 a.m.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Tensions flare as Democrats urge consumer bureau to boost penalties: Tensions flared at a House committee hearing Wednesday as Democrats accused a powerful federal watchdog of shirking its obligation to protect consumers from financial fraud.

A House Financial Services Committee hearing with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger quickly devolved after a top Democratic congresswoman insisted the bureau had abandoned its mission under her watch.

"If you're not following direction from your staff to help consumers that are harmed, then you are absolutely worthless," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). I'll take you to the contentious hearing here.

 

The showdown: Maloney was referencing Kraninger's decision to not seek payback for consumers in a January legal settlement with Enova International, an online lender accused of illegally collecting debts from consumers.

While Kraninger approved a $3.2 million fine, she did not seek restitution for consumers, despite recommendations from career staff to do so, according to documents released by the committee Wednesday.

 

The backlash: Republicans erupted after Maloney rebuked Kraninger's leadership.

  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) urged Waters to enforce the committee's rules of decorum and denounce Maloney, but her request was swiftly denied.
  • Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) ripped Democrats for their "denigration" of Kraninger, arguing he would be dismissed from the committee if he spoke that way about her Obama-era predecessor, Richard Cordray.
  • Posey then accused the Democrats of treating Kraninger with a "double standard" after Cordray set "a new level of bureaucratic petulance, arrogance, and defiance."
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) said that if Republicans ever addressed Cordray or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the architect of the agency, that way, "there would be rioting out in those halls right now."

 

Lawmakers on the panel have battled for years over the CFPB and its immense authority, and Wednesday's hearing highlighted the partisan rancor that has overshadowed the agency.

Nonetheless, Maloney apologized to Kraninger, explaining she did not "intend to say that [she] was worthless."

"I only intended to echo the chairman's point about the bureau making consumers whole. I didn't intend to disrespect the director personally, and I'm sorry for the confusion that my statement caused."

 

Critics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles: Facebook's ambitious plan to launch a global virtual currency is faltering under growing skepticism from business partners, politicians and financial regulators.

As the founders of Project Libra move toward a planned 2020 launch, crucial financial industry backers have bailed on the cryptocurrency system as Facebook faces rising threats from Washington.

Facebook's critics across the political spectrum were elated after Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe and PayPal all pulled out of the virtual currency project this month.

The project has also raised alarms among financial regulators, who urged the company to tread carefully or risk a federal crackdown. And it all comes as Trump administration officials and lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned with Facebook's immense market power and global reach.

Facebook has sought to distance Libra from its poisonous reputation, highlighting the other partners in the project. But Facebook's missteps have left the company with little credibility among politicians and K Street insiders.

"That's bullshit. I don't think anybody buys that at all," said a financial technology industry lobbyist. "As much as Facebook wants to say that this isn't a Facebook program, they're putting their CEO up to answer for it."

The Hill's Emily Birnbaum and I have more here.

 

Read more: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Wednesday ahead of his testimony before the committee she chairs next week, according to multiple reports.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The Commerce Department is developing a methodology for compiling and publishing regular statistics on inequality and plans to publish its prototype measures in 2020.
  • U.S. consumer spending sunk in September by the lowest rate in seven months, according to data released Wednesday by the Commerce Department.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday voted along party lines to approve the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, the final move needed for the deal to secure the U.S. government's full blessing. 

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Bipartisan lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday hit the Trump administration for including language from legal liability protections for internet companies in trade negotiations.
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