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Donald Trump Criticizes Corporate "Inversions" During Presidential Debate

 Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized the practice of corporations moving their headquarters overseas in name only to avoid US taxes during the presidential debate in South Carolina. Trump called these corporate "inversions" "one of the biggest problems" facing the United States. Democratic presidential candidates have also criticized the practice.

Argentina Negotiates Debt Dispute with "Holdout" Hedge Funds

Argentina's new government begins negotiations in New York with groups that sued the country for more than $1 billion after the country defaulted on its debt in 2001. President Mauricio Macri took office in December and announced his intention to reach a settlement. The investor groups are known as "holdouts" because they refused to participate in Argentina's debt restructuring deals that 92 percent of investors accepted.

Congress Excludes Puerto Rico Bankruptcy Provision in Omnibus Bill

As Congress releases the "omnibus" package, bankruptcy provisions for Puerto Rico remain noticeably absent according to Jubilee USA, which closely followed the budget negotiations. Over the last week, bipartisan efforts to include Puerto Rico bankruptcy protection in the massive spending bill failed to move forward. Congress will vote on the legislation in as little as 72 hours.

"I'm deeply disappointed by the lack of Congressional action," commented Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group, Jubilee USA. "We are failing millions of Americans on the island."

Representatives Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico), Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have all introduced separate bills to extend Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico faces a January 1 deadline to pay nearly $1 billion in debt or default.

"It's not too late for Congress to pass bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico," noted LeCompte. "Time is running out to act and the lives of our fellow Americans hang in the balance."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

 

United Nations Votes for Global Bankruptcy Principles

 

A United Nations committee adopted nine principles to create a global bankruptcy process for countries. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz addressed the final session of "The UN Ad Hoc Committee on Sovereign Debt Restructuring" that the UN General Assembly established last fall. Countries currently cannot access bankruptcy protection when they face economic crisis. The World Bank notes that 49 countries face worrying levels of debt distress and the International Monetary Fund notes debt is the root cause of inequality. In recent months, governments across the Caribbean, Greece and Argentina expressed an immediate need for a global bankruptcy process.

"With so many countries facing debt crises, we urgently need solutions to protect investors and poor people," noted Eric LeCompte, who is participating in the UN meetings. LeCompte is the executive director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network. "The UN's work is a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do if we want a legally binding process."

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Fines Predatory Student Lending Practices; Religious Groups Pray for Student Debt Relief

 

Synagogues and churches held prayer services for students as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Discover Bank $18.5 million for illegal student lending practices. The bank must repay students $16 million, pay a $2.5 million civil penalty and reform its lending practices. The Bureau accused Discover of overstating the minimum amount due in billing statements, misrepresenting students' total interest payments and engaging in illegal debt collection practices. The penalty is the first of its kind by the Bureau against a student loan company

"This fine sends a strong message to companies that take advantage of students," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious anti-poverty coalition Jubilee USA Network, which advocates for responsible student lending policies. "Predatory lending traps students in debt."

This past weekend, 64 faith communities from 26 states prayed and acted for fair student lending policies as part of Jubilee USA's national interfaith "Jubilee for Students" prayer event. In 2012 and 2013, the event pushed congressional legislation to stop federal student loan interest rate increases. 

"Unfair lending practices put our young people at risk," said Rabbi Barnett Brickner of Temple Israel in Alameda, Calif. "It's important we protect our students and ensure they can graduate college without mountains of debt."

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