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Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Jeremy Hobson Sep 17, 2010

Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Jeremy Hobson Sep 17, 2010


Kai Ryssdal: As with so many stories with a dateline of Washington D.C., the news of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been mostly of the horse race variety. Will Elizabeth Warren get the job or won’t she? President Obama answered that question, at least for now, when he hired her today to help set up the agency. But his announcement this afternoon does raise another question: What exactly are her intentions?

Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson has the story from New York.

Jeremy Hobson: Elizabeth Warren has her work cut out for her. Today, President Obama laid it out.

President Barack Obama: She will help oversee all aspects of the bureau’s creation from staff recruitment to designing policy initiatives to future decisions about the agency.

Aides to Elizabeth Warren say her top priority will be setting up an agency that eliminates the fine print, making loan agreements easier to understand. But Travis Plunkett at the Consumer Federation of America says there’s a lot more than that on Warren’s plate.

Travis Plunkett: Abusive mortgage lending practices, for example. Overdraft loans, payday and auto title loans, these are short-term, high-cost loans. Interest rates start at about 400 percent. And the list goes on and on.

And every industry on that list may end up looking a little different because of Warren’s work.

Christopher Bellini: Probably the last thing of this significance was the Glass-Steagall act coming out of the Depression.

Christopher Bellini is a lawyer with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. He’s talking about the act that separated commercial banking from investment banking. He says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could reshape a lot of companies.

Bellini: You may find that organizations that previously were able to operate on a stand-alone basis may need to grow larger to comply with the costs or they may sell out to other people and you may see a consolidation in the industries.

And don’t forget that Warren will have to set up an agency that can take our calls. Again, here’s Travis Plunkett:

Plunkett: This agency is going to handle complaints that consumers have about their banks and financial services companies. It’s going to have to get a complaint system up and running by the time it opens its doors next July.

Warren may get her first dose of public comments next Tuesday at an event to discuss mortgage disclosure forms.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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