The whole world is changing! There are 500 McDonalds in the United States that currently offer table service. The bring-your-burger-to-you trial has proven sufficiently successful that the fast-food giant plans to bring table service to all 14,000 or so of its domestic locations. Wait a minute… don’t we want them out paving roads and building bridges under the $1 trillion infrastructure plan?

The rumor mill is working in FHA-land as the Trump Team narrowed the list for the next FHA Commissioner and Deputy Secretary of HUD.  According to sources familiar with the situation, the Trump team is weighing Edward Brady, an Illinois home builder, and Debra Still, president and chief executive of Pulte Mortgage and a former chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. and Brian Montgomery, a former FHA commissioner who is currently vice chairman of The Collingwood Group, is thought to be in the running for deputy secretary of HUD, sources said.

There's plenty of stockings with coal this holiday season. It would be a mistake to say that regulators turned residential lending around. Regulators did not "conquer" residential lending. But without the regulators the residential lenders would not have arrived at where they are today. And their guns are blazing heading into the holidays and the catch-all UDAAP is again the tool of choice.

The CFPB has entered into a consent order with Moneytree, Inc. to settle allegations that the company engaged in deceptive advertising, sent consumers deceptive collection letters, and did not obtain written authorization for electronic repayments. The consent order requires the company to pay approximately $255,000 in consumer redress and a civil money penalty of $250,000 to the CFPB. Moneytree didn't admit to any wrongdoing, or deny any for that matter.

According to the consent order, Moneytree "engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act's UDAAP prohibition by (1) running online advertisements that advertised the company would cash tax-refund checks at its locations for '1.99,' thereby expressly or impliedly representing a fee of $1.99 when the company's actual check cashing fee was 1.99 percent of the check amount, and (2) sending collection letters to consumers who were delinquent on unsecured installment loans that referred to the loans as 'title loans' and stated that the loans would be reviewed for repossession if the consumer did not make past due payments or missed another payment.  (The company subsequently sent consumers who received such letters another letter stating that the prior collection letters referencing a title loan were produced in error and should be disregarded.) 

"The consent order also found that the company violated the EFTA and Regulation E by making electronic withdrawals from consumers' accounts for loan repayments without obtaining written authorization for the withdrawals.

In addition to prohibiting the company from engaging in similar future conduct and requiring it to pay a $250,000 civil money penalty, the consent order requires the company to reserve or deposit $255,016.45 in a segregated account to be distributed to affected consumers. Under the order, any consumer who cashed a tax refund check at one of the company's locations will receive a refund of the 1.99% fee paid less $1.99; any consumer who received a collection letter referring to his or her loan as a title loan will receive a refund of any payments made before the company sent the corrective letter; and any consumer who was assessed a fee by his or her bank for electronic payments withdrawn without written authorization will be reimbursed for such fees.

And in a related field, the CFPB took action against four Virginia pawnbrokers for "deceiving consumers about the actual annual costs of their loans. In lawsuits filed in federal court, the CFPB alleged that the four companies broke the law by misstating the charges associated with pawn loans. The CFPB's lawsuits seek to end the pawnbrokers' illegal practices, get restitution for the consumers they harmed, and impose penalties."

"When consumers take out a loan, they are entitled to know the actual annual cost," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "We are taking action today against pawnbrokers that deceived consumers about these costs..."

What about asking consumers to analyze trends and predict future enforcement actions before they happen? The CFPB unveiled Consumer Credit Trends, a web-based tool to help the public monitor developments in consumer lending and forecast potential future risks. "The beta version of the Consumer Credit Trends tool tracks originations for mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and student loans. The CFPB plans to include other consumer credit products and information on credit applications, delinquency rates, and consumer debt levels. The tool also charts how specific groups of consumers are faring in financial markets. By tracking trends over time, it should help warn of potential problems lurking in each market."

The US Consumer Coalition (USCC) launched an ad entitled "The CFPB Man." "This is a digital ad campaign reminding all Americans that they're not alone this holiday season when making their last-minute purchases in stores and online. The CFPB has admitted to collecting the personal credit card records of 95% of all Americans per their strategic plan. This program continues despite numerous inquiries by Congress and admissions by the Director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, that he cannot ensure that the data is secure."

In a blog post Patrice Ficklin, Associate Director of the CFPB's Office of Fair Lending, outlined the CFPB's fair lending priorities for 2017. Ms. Ficklin wrote that, going forward, the CFPB will increase its focus on three areas. The first is redlining: The CFPB "will continue to evaluate whether lenders have intentionally avoided lending in minority neighborhoods." The second is mortgage and student loan servicing. The CFPB "will determine whether some borrowers who are behind on their mortgage or student loan payments may have more difficulty working out a new solution with the servicer because of their race or ethnicity." And the third is small business lending. "Congress expressed concern that women-owned and minority-owned businesses may experience discrimination when they apply for credit, and has required the CFPB to take steps to ensure their fair access to credit."

Law firm Ballard Spahr writes, "Although the CFPB entered into consent orders in 2015 and 2016 to settle claims of alleged redlining, by identifying redlining as a 2017 focus, Ms. Ficklin appears to be signaling a ramping up of CFPB enforcement activity targeting redlining in 2017."

Why let the CFPB have all the fun? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged landlords with discriminating against residents with disabilities. HUD announced that it charged a Salt Lake City apartment complex owner and manager with housing discrimination for denying the reasonable accommodation requests of residents with disabilities.

Turning to something potentially equally as punitive as interest rates, bond prices staged a bit of a rally Monday, which meant that rates dropped. Are we "overdone" on the upside for now? Possibly, and a move like this on no news would suggest it. Fed Chair Yellen said that the U.S. labor market is at its strongest in "nearly a decade" during a speech in Edgar Allen Poe's Baltimore. "The unemployment rate, at 4.6 percent, is near what it was before the recession. This is a level that has been associated with good job opportunities. Job creation is continuing at a steady pace; the layoff rate is low; and job openings are up over the past couple years, which is another sign of a healthy job market. And weekly earnings for younger workers have made strong gains over the past couple of years."

But keeping our eyes on debt, the Congressional Budget Office expects that the U.S. federal budget deficit will widen to 4.6% of GDP in 2026 from 3.1% in 2017 due to higher entitlement spending. That estimate assumes that fiscal policy will remain on its current course. That's a hefty percentage.

The MBA's application figures don't come out until tomorrow, but reports are that things are pretty slow out there for new business. Yesterday retail TBA ("to be announced" - or generic hedges) volumes, per Tradeweb were well below recent averages - suggesting that locks are down industry wide. (With no locks, there's nothing to hedge.)

And so Monday the 10-year note, a proxy for the general interest rate environment, improved .5 in prices and its yield dropped to 2.54%. The 5-year Treasury and agency MBS prices improved about .250, depending on security and coupon. With no meaty news, today (I think there is some Philly Fed Non-Manufacturing Survey of little consequence) we find the 10-year at 2.57% and MBS prices worse .125 versus last night to start the day.

Jobs and Announcements

In job news Guaranty Trust Company is looking for a new Director of Secondary and Capital Markets. "As our current director looks forward to retirement, we are looking for a seasoned professional to ensure effective and efficient management of complex hedging functions and pipeline management. Ideal candidates should have a minimum of 5 years of related experience, comprehensive industry knowledge, and excellent analytical and problem solving skills. This position will report directly to the CEO. Guaranty Trust Company is a 30-year-old company, owned by Volunteer State Bank. We offer a fun, family oriented environment that allows our employees to thrive! We are headquartered just outside of Nashville, TN.

For a complete job description please email us or contact Retta Garnder.

On the retail side, "Looking for your next opportunity? Homeside Financial was just named a Best Place to Work in 2017 by Glassdoor. No other mortgage lender even came close. Homeside is one of the nation's fastest growing mortgage lenders, with a mission focused on blending technology with a handshake to disrupt the mortgage industry. Since opening in late 2013, Homeside has seen explosive growth! Dual-headquartered in Columbia, MD, & Columbus, OH, Homeside provides a modern mortgage experience to its consumers, and a dynamic career path and culture for its team members. For a closer look at what it's like to work at one of the only mortgage companies Glassdoor acclaimed as a 'Best Place to Work,' visit HomesideRecruiting today."

And Inlanta Mortgage, Inc. is growing & looking to expand into the Colorado and Texas markets. "Management is currently seeking strong, success-driven, top producers with an entrepreneurial spirit to grow with them. Founded in 1993, Inlanta has been providing top mortgage professionals with platforms to achieve success for over 20 years. Inlanta has been named a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Top Workplace for three consecutive years, has been consistently recognized as one of the '50 Best Mortgage Companies to Work For' by Mortgage Executive Magazine, and has been named one of the country's 'Top Mortgage Employers' by National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Inlanta has also received recognition as a top USDA, WHEDA, and FHA lender, and its top performers have been featured in national publications including Mortgage Professional America's (MPA) Hot 100, Elite Women in Mortgage, and Young Guns lists. If you are looking to join an award-winning team and take charge of your career in 2017, contact Inlanta's SVP of Business Development, Chad Gomoll (262-439-4260).

In TPO job news, Acopia Capital Group is expanding its wholesale/correspondent sales coverage by hiring seasoned and successful Account Executives throughout California. Acopia is a FNMA/FHLMC/GNMA approved seller/servicer and its systematic growth has been driven by expanding portfolio loan products including a 95% LTV Jumbo program & 95% CLTV second mortgage. "We offer mortgage professionals a wide range of innovative mortgage products along with superior customer service. We place a high value on our business relationships and are ready to partner with you to build your business today. If your territory is saturated with multiple AEs you should consider joining the Acopia team, please contact Kerry Webb."

And Quicken Loans is searching for Account Executives for Georgia (remote/in the area)Texas (remote, in the area), and Inside Account Executives for North Carolina. "We're the #1 online lender in America, closing loans in all 50 states, and we've grown to be one of the largest full-service residential mortgage lenders in the country. Quicken Loans was named a J.D. Power and Associates 2010 - 2015 Customer Service Champion, one of only 40 companies named in the U.S. We were also ranked highest in the nation for customer satisfaction among mortgage servicers the last three years, the first years we were eligible. There's a simple reason we've been so successful: We care about the people we work with. AEs are expected to increase and grow the Company's wholesale lending business by developing and maintaining mortgage loan broker relationships and agreements with qualified banks, community banks, credit unions and other qualified financial institutions (QFIs) within the Account Executive's authorized territory."

In personnel news, Citigroup's global head of retail banking and mortgages, Jonathan Larsen, resigned for personal reasons. And the East Coast's Mortgage Network, Inc. announced that James Comosa has been named president. Robert McInnes, owner, co-founder and former president of Mortgage Network, Inc., announced internally his intent to move to the role of chairman and CEO, elevating Comosa to president.