March 15, 2022
Paving the Payments Future
Education Department sends another sign that student loan payments may not restart in May

The U.S. Department of Education has directed the companies that service federal student loans not to send out notices about the payments resuming.

It’s a clear sign the Biden administration is considering extending the loan payment pause imposed after the Covid pandemic hit.

The U.S. Department of Education has directed the companies that service federal student loans not to send out notices about payments restarting in May, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Servicers that would have sent out the reminders to borrowers at the end of the month are now holding off.

The news is the clearest sign yet the Biden administration is considering extending the payment pause for federal student loan borrowers once again. It remains unclear how much more time, if any, borrowers may get.

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The Earned Income Tax Credit or #EITC has no maximum age limit for 2021 tax returns.

Married taxpayers over 64 years old with no qualifying children may still get up to $1,500 in #EITC when they file this year.
Half of Americans who quit their jobs last year made a career change. Here are 5 steps to take to do the same

If you want to change careers, you are not alone.

It turns out the “Great Resignation,” also known as the “Great Reshuffle,” has many Americans rethinking the type of work they are doing. Some 53% of employed U.S. adults who quit their job in 2021 changed their occupation or field of work at some point last year, an analysis from Pew Research found.

Younger workers were more prone to make the leap. Of employed adults ages 18 to 29 who said they quit a job in 2021, 61% shifted their field of work or occupation, compared to 45% of those ages 30 and older, according to Pew. It based its analysis on 6,627 non-retired U.S. adults, including 965 who say they left a job by choice last year. The data was collected as a part of a larger survey conducted Feb. 7 to 13.

Now may be the time to make a change, if that’s what you are contemplating, experts believe.

Shining a Spotlight on Workers’ Financial Experiences

There are troubling signs that too many American workers face financial hardship, even as the economy recovers and unemployment remains relatively low. Larger firms dominate many markets , while fewer workers are directly employed by the larger firms that exert significant influence over labor conditions within their markets and supply chains. In response to concerns from workers about financial risk or harm at the hands of the very employers from which they seek to earn a living, the CFPB is looking into the consumer financial products or services that workers face in the workplace.

Recently, the CFPB invited worker organizations and labor unions representing workers in a wide range of sectors and occupations to share their members’ experiences and challenges. Participants conveyed that workers are increasingly subject to specific consumer financial products or services that can leave them financially worse off and unable to change jobs. Advocates emphasized that these practices are increasingly common, especially in industries dominated by a small number of employers. Participants also reported that the opportunity for abuse is significantly heightened for many workers who have been involved in the justice system, are immigrants, or are geographically isolated.

Two major themes of particular relevance to the CFPB emerged during the roundtable event:

Arizona deal marks 5th credit union purchase of bank in 2022

  • Phoenix-based Arizona Federal Credit Union said it would acquire Lake Havasu City, Arizona-based Horizon Community Bank for $91.4 million, according to a Thursday press release.
  • The deal is the fifth acquisition of a bank by a credit union to be proposed in 2022 so far, and would mark the second such deal in Arizona Federal’s history, after the credit union acquired Pinnacle Bank in 2019. 
  • “We believe that quality growth and diversification is essential to continued success in our industry, and we intend to achieve it both organically and through mergers or acquisitions,” Ronald L. Westad, CEO of Arizona Federal, said in the press release.

Addressing financial inclusion in the US

The Treasury Option: How the US can achieve the financial inclusion benefits of a CBDC now

As public debate heats up over whether the United States should create a central bank digital currency (CBDC), there is another option that deserves consideration: Treasury Accounts. The Treasury Department could, relatively quickly, create digital accounts to provide payment services that would be especially valuable to unbanked and underbanked individuals. These accounts might not possess all the technological advances of a full-blown CBDC, but they would be much easier to establish and could be implemented now under existing statutory authority. Importantly, Treasury Accounts could immediately improve access to financial services for the millions of Americans who have limited access to banking services today and also greatly facilitate the distribution of federal benefit programs to all Americans. Treasury Accounts are not an alternative to CBDCs but rather a faster, easier way to achieve some of the primary objectives of those who favor creating a CBDC. The creation of Treasury Accounts would represent a concrete step forward in the Treasury Department’s efforts “to unlock the unrealized potential of underserved communities,” an initiative the Department announced in connection with Secretary Yellen’s appointment of the Department’s first counselor for racial equity last Fall.

How technology is helping improve financial inclusion around the world

Millions of underbanked people around the world are finally getting access to financial products such as savings accounts, investing and loans.

They have technology to thank.

“There’s this new type of excitement about putting your money to work for you,” Flori Marquez, the founder and senior vice president of BlockFi, a cryptocurrency trading platform, told CNBC’s Kate Rooney during Thursday’s Equity and Opportunity Forum. “And we’re seeing demographics who historically haven’t been active investors enter this space for the first time by purchasing assets like crypto.

Cryptocurrency bulls have long pointed to the accessibility of the asset class, and some even say that investing in the digital coins could help close the racial wealth gap in the U.S.

Banks are offering bigger loans than ever to keep up with the housing crisis

As housing prices soared in 2021, lenders have had to adapt to keep pace. And that has resulted in the largest one-year increase in conforming loan limits in history.

That jargon-y term, which generally represents the maximum amount consumers can borrow under a typical 30-year mortgage, jumped $100,000 in the past year to $647,200 in most of the nation’s counties.

That works out to an 18% increase in loan limits, which blows past the previous high of 15.9%, which was set in 2005.

Technically, conforming loan limits are the maximum amounts mortgage lenders can give to buyers and still sell those loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Generally, borrowers who need more must take out a “jumbo loan,” which carries additional expenses.

Medical debt 'doom loop' regularly plagues Americans, CFPB report details

Medical debt keeps worsening for Americans around the country.

A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that U.S. consumers hold $88 billion in medical debt as of June 2021. Medical debt also accounts for 58% of all third-party collection tradelines (i.e., the credit accounts listed on a credit report).

Most medical debts are under $500, though the report did note that many of the individuals with this type of debt have multiple collection accounts. This can affect how Americans receive health care as well as other aspects of financial well-being, like access to credit.

“When it comes to medical bills, Americans are often caught in a doom loop between their medical provider and insurance company,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “Our credit reporting system is too often used as a tool to coerce and extort patients into paying medical bills they may not even owe.”

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