Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

A European Agreement Is More Important Than Ireland's $90 Billion Bailout.

Over the weekend, global financial institutions officially bailed out Ireland. $90 billion in loans will go to the Irish government, which in turn will use most of them to bail out the banks, leaving little left over for upcoming emergencies. Felix Salmon has already called the amount " underwhelming ," and he's right -- if history is any guide, this "package," as the IMFers call it these deals, will not stem growing concerns about sovereign debt, nor will it be a reprieve for other European countries teetering on the edge of default. The harsh conditions imposed on Ireland, which has already drastically cut its budget, are supposed to restore discipline to the markets. But as we learned during the financial crises of the late 1990s, imposing austerity on the borrower nations while not forcing creditors to restructure loans is a recipe for failure. A series of bailout packages to various countries helped restore some stability but didn't halt the crisis. What resolved it were...

More People Switch to Community Banks.

I'm home for Thanksgiving, which means I'm reading about my Patriots big win yesterday in The Boston Globe . The paper also has coverage of another of my interests: consumer finance. Working off a Zogby survey -- I'm a bit skeptical of online surveys, but there you go -- the paper reports that more people are moving to local community banks and credit unions: Last Thursday, Koplik closed his two longstanding Bank of America accounts, moving $35,000 to Cambridge Savings Bank, where he will earn a higher interest and pay fewer fees. “That’s a customer of 33 years they’re losing,’’ he said of Bank of America. “But enough is enough.’’ The bank is among the nation’s larger financial institutions watching dissatisfied customers slip away, lured in by smaller community banks and credit unions offering deals and incentives. A recent poll by the opinion research firm Zogby International found 14 percent of US adults have switched to a community bank or credit union in the last year, with 60...

Republicans to Go After Consumer Protection.

In an unsurprising move, House Republicans are gearing up to hinder the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established this past summer by the Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation: While they have little hope of repealing the new consumer agency—which has broad powers to write rules for mortgages, credit cards and other financial products—Republicans can work to influence regulators to blunt the agency's power. Sending critical letters and ordering up investigations are two time-honored ways lawmakers exert influence. In this case, Republicans have two main targets: the Treasury Department, which is running the new agency until it assumes its full powers on July 21, and Elizabeth Warren, who was tapped as a special adviser by President Barack Obama to lead the setup of the bureau. One of the reasons that the CFPB was placed inside the Federal Reserve -- and is funded by the Fed -- was to protect it from attacks like these; regulators whose budget is controlled by...

Ron in Reserve

Why the GOP and Ron Paul finally set aside their differences to bash the Federal Reserve

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
For decades, libertarian Rep. Ron Paul has criticized the Federal Reserve Bank, putting him outside both parties: Democrats who hoped the central bank could manage sustainable growth and Republicans whose policy idol was conservative monetary economist Milton Friedman. Now, when Congress reorganizes in January, Paul is likely to be placed in charge of the House panel that oversees the Federal Reserve, and his fellow Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, are mounting an extensive critique of the Fed's latest policy, even suggesting it's time to rewrite the institution's operating mandate. But Paul is still not exactly on the same page. "I think they're missing the whole point," he says. "I don't want the Fed to have any power!" While the right's embrace of Paul's critique of the Fed is revealing of how far right Republicans have shifted on economic issues in the last few years, Paul is correct that few in the GOP entirely share his perspective. The Republican establishment hopes to use...

Chris Christie Will Yell at You, Give You Millions.

Jason Zengerle has a new profile of New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie , who apparently does his best to manufacture the famous YouTube moments where he berates constituents who disagree with him. But what interests me far more than his media strategy is his strategy for buying off local Democratic Party bosses: His political alliance with George Norcross , the legendary South Jersey Democratic boss who has expressed “the highest regard for Governor Christie’s aggressive leadership,” has made things difficult for Sweeney, who was installed as Senate president as the result of a Norcross power play and now must simultaneously try to satisfy both his political patron and the Democratic legislators who want him to be a strong voice of opposition... Meanwhile, Steve Adubato and Joe DiVincenzo , two Newark-area Democrats who run the most powerful political machine in North Jersey, have become increasingly vocal in their support of Christie. “He’s a personal friend, and he’s been...