ABA Banking Journal
March 17, 2017

This ABA Banking Journal newsletter is a free, twice-monthly supplement to the ABA Banking Journal magazine intended to help you stay on top of industry and policy news. You can also stay abreast of banking news by visiting aba.com/BankingJournal, home to ABA Daily Newsbytes and other email bulletins.

Industry News
Six of ABA’s community bank leaders, joined by three officers from the Independent Community Bankers of America, met with President Trump at the White House last week for a "listening session" on the challenges that community banks face today and how the regulatory environment can be reformed to promote job creation and economic growth. Bankers raised topics like tailored regulation, accountability for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, regulation of small business and mortgage loans and the need to align regulatory capital requirements with risk. (ABA Banking Journal)
Employers posted more open positions in January compared with December and the number of Americans quitting jumped, trends that could push up wages. Job openings rose 1.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted 5.6 million, the Labor Department said Thursday . While healthy, openings have fallen 1.5 percent year over year. (New York Times)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated his view this week that the long-term strengthening of the dollar is in best interest of the economy and that it reflects confidence in the world’s reserve currency. (Bloomberg)
Mortgage rates, which had begun to move higher ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its benchmark rate, rose again this week. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average leaped to 4.3 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.21 percent a week ago and 3.73 percent a year ago. (Washington Post)
Data Center, Inc. (DCI)
Verint Systems
Most student financial aid for higher education comes in two forms: loans and grants. As tuition costs have grown, however, both options have had a hard time keeping up—grants are oversubscribed and loans have left college dropouts struggling to pay off debts without any of the financial benefits of holding a degree. Leaders at Purdue University believe their students don’t need to take on private loans to graduate. (The Atlantic)
It’s tax time, and for more than two-thirds of Americans, their tax refund is the single largest payment they’ll receive all year. Last year, approximately 80 percent of all tax returns resulted in the issuance of a refund, and the Internal Revenue Service estimated the average tax refund was approximately $3,100. For most Americans, particularly those living paycheck to paycheck, that sum represents a substantial financial windfall. (ABA Banking Journal)
While just 25 percent of U.S. consumers with an eligible smartphone are using mobile payments, according to a new survey conducted by Auriemma Consulting Group, incentives provided by merchants and financial institutions can help drive growth in this channel. Customers offered incentives were about 50 percent more likely to use mobile payments at the retail point of sale. (ABA Banking Journal)
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Policy News
ABA this fall will pilot a program designed to help bankers run for state or federal office as part of its efforts to promote a pro-growth policy environment in Washington. ABA’s Candidate School is a comprehensive two-day program that will provide bankers with information on how to file necessary paperwork, manage paid and earned media, fundraise, conduct research, target their message and get out the vote. (ABA Banking Journal)
The Federal Reserve will stick to a gradual path of interest rate rises even if inflation runs above its 2 percent target, Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday, signaling that the U.S. central bank is willing to use low rates to push down even harder on unemployment. (New York Times)
The last time Washington, D.C., was under one-party control was at the beginning of former President Obama’s term. As you might recall, generationally significant legislation made it through in the 111th Congress, including the Dodd-Frank Act. A party with solid control of the executive and legislative branches can get a lot done—good and bad. So President Trump’s win on Nov. 8 has many bankers optimistic that, with a healthy dose of bipartisan engagement, 2017 might be the year the industry finally sees needed regulatory relief. (ABA Banking Journal)
Computer Services Inc
LexisNexis Risk Solutions
ABA has called for a longer delay of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule effective date and an updated economic and legal analysis of the final rule. "The fiduciary rule remains fundamentally flawed and unworkable in critical areas, and thus requires substantial revision in order to be considered a functional rule, let alone a wise public policy," ABA said. (ABA Banking Journal)
ABA, joined by the Independent Community Bankers of America, Community Development Bankers Association and National Bankers Association, urged congressional leaders to maintain strong funding levels for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and its Bank Enterprise Award program in the remainder of fiscal year 2017 as well as FY 2018. (ABA Banking Journal)
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