REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

September 30, 2022

Rethinking The Federal Home Loan Bank System

By David Reiss

photo by Tony Webster

Law360 published my column, Time To Rethink The Federal Home Loan Bank System. It opens,

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is commencing a comprehensive review of an esoteric but important part of our financial infrastructure this month. The review is called “Federal Home Loan Bank System at 100: Focusing on the Future.”

It is a bit of misnomer, as the system is only 90 years old. Congress brought it into existence in 1932 as one of the first major legislative responses to the Great Depression. But the name of the review also signals that the next 10 years should be a period of reflection regarding the proper role of the system in our broader financial infrastructure.

Just as the name of the review process is a bit misleading, so is the name of the Federal Home Loan Bank system itself. While it was originally designed to support homeownership, it has morphed into a provider of liquidity for large financial institutions.

Banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citibank NA and Wells Fargo & Co. are among its biggest beneficiaries and homeownership is only incidentally supported by their involvement with it.

As part of the comprehensive review of the system, we should give thought to at least changing the name of the system so that it cannot trade on its history as a supporter of affordable homeownership. But we should go even farther and give some thought to spinning off its functions into other parts of the federal financial infrastructure as its functions are redundant with theirs. 

September 30, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

September 27, 2022

NYSBA Task Force on the Digital Economy (and the Real Economy)

By David Reiss

The New York Law Journal ran a story on the NYSBA’s new Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency. The NYSBA Press Release is here. Joseph Bizub, my co-author, and I are members of the Task Force. We are writing about the impact of fintech on real estate investment. The Press Release reads:

The New York State Bar Association has launched a task force to make recommendations on how New York should regulate virtual currencies and digital assets and advise the association what the new technology can do for its operations.

“The rapid growth of the metaverse/Web3 and the digital economy present a confluence of issues for lawyers,” said President Sherry Levin Wallach. “At the same time, this technology has the power to significantly change the way we do business, bank, and interact both personally and professionally. It’s important that we are in front of the issues and able to engage productively in this quickly evolving space.”

The task force will work to educate NYSBA members and the legal community about the impact of the digital economy and the legal issues that are likely to arise in representation of clients. It will also evaluate legislative and regulatory proposals and explore how the metaverse and Web3 can benefit the legal profession and bar associations.

“We are already seeing the effects of this trillion-dollar industry in many areas of practice including entertainment, business, intellectual property, tax, criminal and environmental law and trusts and estates,” Levin Wallach said. “The Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency will ensure that the New York State Bar Association has a voice in this innovative and emerging field.”

Jacqueline J. Drohan, partner at Drohan Lee, and Dana V. Syracuse, co-chair of Perkins Coie’s Fintech Industry Group, will co-chair the task force. The vice chair will be Dr. Carlos Mauricio Sakata Mirandola, CMSquare, São Paulo, Brazil. Marc Beckman, founding partner of DMA United, New York, NY, and Nancy Chanin, who oversees business development at DMA United, will be consultants to the task force.

New York State Bar Association President-Elect Richard C. Lewis will be the task force’s liaison to the association’s Executive Committee. Joseph Bizub and Dina Khedr of Brooklyn Law School will be law student members of the task force.

The members of the task force include:

Alyssa Barreiro, head of fiduciary risk, BNY Mellon, Binghamton, NY

Joshua Lee Boehm, partner, Perkins Coie, Phoenix, AZ

Julie T. Houth, staff attorney, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, San Diego, CA

Luca CM Melchionna, managing member, Melchionna, New York, NY

John W. R. Murray, partner, Foley Hoag, New York, NY

Jeffrey D. Neuburger, head of Blockchain group, Proskauer Rose; New York, NY

Rory J. Radding, partner, Mauriel Kapouytian Woods, New York, NY

David J. Reiss, professor of law and research director, Brooklyn Law School Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship, New York, NY

Jason Schwartz, tax partner and co-head of Digital Assets and Blockchain Practice, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Washington, DC

Robyn T. Williams, associate, Devlin Law Firm, Cleveland, OH

September 27, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

September 26, 2022

How Fintech Cos. May Transform Real Estate Investment

By David Reiss

Justin Peralta

Joseph Bizub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I published How Fintech Cos. May Transform Real Estate Investment along with Joseph Bizub and Justin Peralta in Law360. It opens,

Until relatively recently, real estate with a small footprint — one-to-four-family homes as well as small retail, office and industrial buildings — were generally within the sole purview of small investors who invested locally.

Today, because of technological advances, these owner-occupants and investors face significant competition from institutional investors and an emerging class of decentralized finance investors.

These fintech companies are bringing new approaches to the challenges that real estate investing traditionally poses: illiquidity, lack of capital, lack of diversification and uneven access to market information.

This article focuses on how decentralized finance investors in particular are meeting those challenges and suggests that while much of their vaunted innovation is simply old wine in new bottles, there is good reason to think that they will be driving a lot of investment in small real estate transactions in the future, in no small part because people like shiny new bottles.

September 26, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

September 23, 2022

The NYAG Lawsuit against Trump

By David Reiss

NY Attorney General James

I was interviewed by Reuters in Explainer: What New York’s lawsuit means for Trump regarding the lawsuit that New York Attorney General James filed against former President Trump and others in his circle. The video is here. The transcript reads in part,

The lawsuit seeks to have Trump and the other defendants give up $250 million in what she says were false financial gains.

James is also seeking to bar Trump and three of his children – Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump – from serving as directors of companies registered in New York…

and prevent them and their company from buying commercial real estate or getting bank loans in New York state for five years.

She is also seeking to appoint an independent monitor at the Trump Organization to oversee various aspects of its business for five years.

Trump, who is considering running again for president in 2024, is expected to contest the litigation. But David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, sees another possibility…

“…He’s been very effective at pushing final outcomes in his legal battles years down the road, and maybe that’s a good enough strategy for him. That’s possible. The other possibility, even though he doesn’t say this on Twitter, is he may settle.”

September 23, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

May 2, 2022

Foreclosure Echo

By David Reiss

 

David Reiss CC BY-NC-SA

Linda Fisher recently posted a pdf of The Foreclosure Echo: How the Hardest Hit Have Been Left out of the Economic Recovery, a book she co-authored with Judith Fox. It came out before the pandemic, so you might have missed it. The abstract reads,

This book tells the story of the foreclosure crisis from a new perspective – that of ordinary people who experienced it. This angle has not been thoroughly communicated before now. The authors are legal academics who have worked for decades defending low- to moderate-income people from foreclosure and challenging predatory lending practices. They have a wealth of experience representing people whose American Dream was shattered when they were threatened with losing their homes. Using actual experiences – often examined through a legal lens – supplemented by economic, social science and legal research, The Foreclosure Echo explains how people experienced the crisis and how their lenders and public institutions let them down. The book also details the lingering effects of the crisis – such as vacant and abandoned buildings – and how these effects have magnified inequality. Finally, the book suggests reforms that could help avoid another crisis.

It is a timely read, and it resonates with some of the challenges homeowners will face as the consequences of the pandemic work themselves out in the housing market with the expiration of the various foreclosure moratoria that were in effect during the earlier stages of the pandemic.

May 2, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

April 27, 2022

Sharing Your Home with Strangers

By David Reiss

Debra Bechtel, Crystal Liu, Ernira Mehmetaj, and I have just posted Sharing Your Home with Strangers: Common-Interest Ownership and Financing Options to SSRN (as well as to bepress). The abstract reads,

As the affordable housing crisis in the U.S. escalates, housing policy analysts and advocates are re-examining, modifying, and combining ways of decreasing the costs of homeownership through shared owner-ship and shared financing while also, in some instances, preserving long-term affordability. This Article will touch upon the vast array of models and take a deep dive into one of them, the relatively new shared equity financing model. That model holds some promise and a lot of peril for homeowners.

April 27, 2022 | Permalink | No Comments

October 29, 2021

Reducing Land Use and Zoning Restrictions

By David Reiss

By Narnaudov1 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99170604
The White House hosted an event today on Reducing Land Use and Zoning Restrictions. While the event was pretty short — an hour or so — it had a bunch of heavy hitters presenting, including Professor Edward Glaeser of Harvard. For many years, Glaeser has written about how local land use laws restrict the construction of housing. It is great to see the White House taking this issue so seriously as it has a massive impact on the affordability of housing as well as the ability of people to move to places with lots of jobs, like the Bay Area.

This effort is part of Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, which is intended, in part, to

  • Incentivize the removal of exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies. For decades, exclusionary zoning laws – like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing – have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities. President Biden’s plan seeks to help jurisdictions reduce barriers to producing affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes. The Build Back Better Plan will create an incentive program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to reduce barriers to affordable housing production.

The Biden Administration seems to be picking up the gauntlet from previous administrations (here and here) that have made reducing land use restrictions on housing an initiative worth pushing. As opposed to the last two administrations, however, the Biden Administration is taking up the issue earlier in its tenure, so its push may have more legs than the ones that preceded it.

October 29, 2021 | Permalink | No Comments