Chris Arnold

A powerful banking regulator appointed by President Trump could face tough questions in a Senate hearing Thursday about his efforts to allow big banks to make small, high-interest, short-term loans to consumers.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to come under fire by the man running the watchdog agency — Mick Mulvaney, the interim director appointed by President Trump.

In his latest action, Mulvaney moved on Wednesday to effectively dismantle the agency's consumer advisory council. "It's quite clear that we've been fired," said Kathleen Engel, a law professor at Suffolk University and a member of the CFPB's Consumer Advisory Board.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the Trump administration's top consumer protection official late Thursday asking him whether he is doing the bidding of the industries he is supposed to be policing.

The move was in response to remarks about lobbyists made earlier this week by the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney.

Earlier this week, Mulvaney told a group of bankers and lobbyists that when he was a Republican congressman he would only talk to lobbyists who gave money to his election campaign.

When a consumer has a complaint about a bank, whether it's dealing with a mortgage or a credit card, right now there's a place to lodge that complaint online.

Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET

Fear and uncertainty over a growing trade dispute with China continued to weigh on investors Wednesday, with markets opening sharply lower before recovering by early afternoon.

The major U.S. indexes — the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq — all fell more than 1 percent in morning trading but rebounded to close higher. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day up 231 points, or 1 percent, and the S&P 5oo closed up 1.1 percent.

The Trump administration will ask Congress to make drastic changes to weaken the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, NPR has learned.

Sources familiar with the matter tell NPR that the CFPB's interim director, Mick Mulvaney, will ask lawmakers to restructure the bureau in his upcoming semi-annual report to Congress. The sources asked not to be named, because they aren't authorized to speak on the matter. The bureau officially announced the move Monday afternoon, after this story first published.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Payday lenders appear to have a powerful friend in Washington.

Former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney is the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was appointed by President Trump amid an ongoing a power struggle for control of the bureau.

In the world of streaming workout videos, Shawn T is like Jay-Z or Mick Jagger. He's a superstar. Millions of people have done his workout programs. One is called "Insanity." Another, "Focus T25," aims to get you in shape in just 25 minutes a day without leaving your house.

In our ever more digital world there are all kinds of apps and other quick ways to fit fitness into your life. But you still have to do the exercise. And in his new book, T is for Transformation, Shaun T tells the story of his life and the lessons he's learned about finding that motivation.

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The embattled company Equifax is having even more trouble with hackers. Now the company has had to take down one of its web pages after it was reported to be prompting people to download malicious software. NPR's Chris Arnold has more.

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Wells Fargo is back in the spotlight for another scandal. This time, for signing up 490,000 auto-loan customers for insurance they didn't need.

This comes less than a year after the bank generated a massive public outcry for opening millions of unwanted accounts for customers.

The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell this week said his company is making a striking shift in its thinking: It now expects oil prices to remain low forever. The global oil glut of recent years shows no sign of diminishing. Energy demand has leveled off. And if electric vehicles take off, oil prices could come under even more downward pressure.

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Two things we know - interest rates are low; consumer confidence is high, which means the housing market should be hot. But it is not. It's just OK.

NPR's Chris Arnold has been asking, why?

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United Airlines says it will never again use police to forcibly remove passengers from overfull flights. But this week's public relations disaster for United highlights a problem that airlines face every day: how to entice people to give up their seats voluntarily.

NPR reached out to some of the top thinkers in the world of "game theory" who say they think the industry could be doing a much better job. Here are some solutions they offered.

Treat the problem as a game.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Friday was the day that many homebuyers across the country were to start saving on average $500 a year on their loans. A fee reduction was set to go into effect at the Federal Housing Administration, lowering the cost of nearly 1 million FHA loans per year.

But that's not going to happen, at least for now, because in his very first hours in office, President Trump issued an order suspending that fee cut.