We at CFIF have consistently highlighted the peril of federal, state and local government efforts targeting…
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New Study Shows How Overregulating Short-Term Lenders Harms Consumers

We at CFIF have consistently highlighted the peril of federal, state and local government efforts targeting the short-term consumer lending sector.

Less than two years ago, we specifically sounded the alarm on a New Mexico law artificially restricting interest rates on short-term consumer loans.

Well, a new study entitled "A New Mexico Consumer Survey:  Understanding the Impact of the 2023 Rate Cap on Consumers" that surveyed actual borrowers confirms our earlier warnings:

Key findings include:

•Short-term,small-dollar loans help borrowers manage their financial situations, irrespective of the borrower’s income.

•The rate cap has failed to improve the financial wellbeing of New Mexicans, specifically those who had previously relied on short-term, small-dollar loans.


November 27, 2023 • 03:57 PM

Liberty Update

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Biden Energy Blunders Beget Global Instability and Domestic Pain Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, February 17 2022
[A]fter just one year in office, Biden Administration energy policies are sowing chaos overseas and consumer pain here at home.

The peril of presidential policy blunders is that, by the time their consequences become obvious, it’s too late to avert the painful lessons.  

Both at home and overseas, we’re witnessing that dynamic due to the self-inflicted wound that is the Biden Administration’s energy policy.  

Here at home, the federal government reports that rising energy prices account for a disproportionate 21% share of the alarming overall rise in consumer price inflation.  For perspective, the average U.S. household spent $1,200 more on energy expenditures in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the University of Pennsylvania.  

According to a new Gallup survey released this month, public satisfaction with energy policies has fallen to an all-time low, which in turn helps explain Joe Biden’s unprecedented plummet in popularity:  

Americans’ satisfaction with a variety of aspects of U.S. society and the state of policy in key issue areas remains subdued in 2022 after falling in 2021…  Of all the issues and societal aspects measured in the survey, satisfaction with energy policies has fallen the most this year.  Higher gas prices are likely the reason this sentiment has dropped 15 percentage points in the past year.  Energy satisfaction had generally been stable between 2014 and 2021, before the steep decline this year.  The 27% currently satisfied with energy policies is the lowest Gallup has measured in its trend.  

As with its other myriad policy blunders from Afghanistan to Covid mitigation, the Biden Administration claims powerlessness and preposterously denies blame.  

As summarized by a damning Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report released this month, however, Biden’s energy policies are inflating prices by persecuting production:  

One week into his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order establishing a moratorium on leasing federal lands for oil and gas production.  President Biden has since called for the re-implementation of an Obama-era rule to require oil and gas producers, processers, and refiners to install expensive technology to detect methane leaks, and in a counterproductive attempt to protect the environment, has begun rolling back any reforms from the Trump Administration that lower costs for energy producers.  The Biden Administration also revoked permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline — a pipeline that would have transported 830,000 barrels of oil a day — proposed fee hikes on domestic energy producers leasing government land, and faces internal pressure to reinstate a misguided ban on oil exports.  These and other federal actions would directly and indirectly halt new investments that are critical to expanding domestic supply.  

Investors and business leaders make business decisions based on policy actions as well as the political discussion that often precedes policy.  The perceived political climate can directly influence forward-looking investment decisions, especially in heavily regulated industries.  The Biden Administration has consistently threatened oil and gas producers with new taxes, regulation, and reporting requirements that raise costs for domestic producers.  

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration’s weakness and miscalculation is triggering dangerous instability overseas.  

As itemized above by the JEC, it has embraced the same European model of demonizing fossil fuels and mandating alternative energy production that has left Europe more vulnerable to Russian threats to curtail gas imports amid the winter freeze.  Whereas President Trump imposed sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe, Biden inexplicably relented in servility to the Germans.  That makes forcefully standing up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression nearly impossible.  

Wasn’t President Trump supposedly the one enabling Putin’s self-interest?  

Biden Administration policies are also strengthening the Iranian dictatorship.  

After President Trump tightened sanctions on Iran in 2017, its oil exports plummeted from 2.5 million barrels per day to less than one-sixth that amount – 400,000 barrels per day – in 2020.  Today, its exports again exceed 1 million barrels per day and rising, continuing its nuclear malfeasance while Biden weakly resumes the Obama delusion that Iran can be our friend.  That in turn jeopardizes Middle East stability, thereby undercutting global energy markets and stability even more.  

Amid this growing chaos, China amplifies its menace toward Taiwan and across the Pacific region, assured that its sudden allies Russia and Iran have Biden sufficiently distracted.  Biden’s catastrophic blunder in Afghanistan only exacerbates that sense of American weakness and distraction.  

The greatest irony is that the green energy agenda favored by squeamish Europeans and environmental alarmists in the U.S. didn’t even achieve its stated ends.  While the U.S. charged ahead with the fracking revolution, we achieved energy independence and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by shifting toward greater use of cleaner-burning natural gas.  Europe, meanwhile, increased greenhouse emissions as its green energy sources failed and it abandoned nuclear energy, forcing it to rely on dirtier sources.  

In any event, after just one year in office, Biden Administration energy policies are sowing chaos overseas and consumer pain here at home.  Whether Biden is wise enough to reverse course by encouraging domestic energy production rather than penalizing it is an open question, but it’s incumbent upon elected leaders and the American public to force his hand.

Notable Quote   
"Hunter Biden's offer to testify before the House Oversight Committee is a clever evasion, nothing more. The president's son says he will testify only if the hearing is publicly televised. Nice try. Subpoenaed witnesses don't get to set the terms. The committee does.Why make an offer that is bound to be rejected? For two reasons. The PR goal is for Hunter to appear willing to testify, when he actually…[more]
— Charles H. Lipson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Chicago
Liberty Poll   

What grade would you give the Biden administration thus far regarding all aspects of its approach to the Hamas/Israel conflict?