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CFPB: We got here one mortgage at a time

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Raj Date, special adviser to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, pulled the bureau into a more public role when addressing the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday. Date told the crowd one of the CFPB's chief goals is to oversee the mortgage lending space by fleshing out and enforcing mortgage rules drafted in the Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010. Date took over as special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the CFPB and as acting leader in the wake of Elizabeth Warren's departure in August. President Obama nominated Richard Cordray, a former Ohio state attorney general, to serve as the agency's director last month. But with Cordray not yet confirmed by the Senate, Date is the agency's most public leader in the wake of Warren's departure. "We are the first agency accountable for making sure that consumer finance markets work for American families," Date told the Philadelphia crowd. "To carry out that mission, the law gives us a wide range of tools — from supervision, to rulemaking, to research, to financial education, to enforcement, to the ability to handle consumer complaints." He stressed that the "Know Before You Owe" campaign continues to be deeply entrenched in surveying the marketplace and analyzing feedback on sample mortgage disclosure applications. Date stressed oversight of the mortgage space remains a top concern. "The Wall Street Reform Act requires us to tackle some tough problems with tight deadlines," Date said. "In particular, in the first stages of the bureau’s life, the law lays out a specific agenda in a specific market — mortgages.  And that makes sense. First, the mortgage market is enormous. At some $10.4 trillion, it’s more than 10 times the size of the next biggest consumer lending market, and more than twice the size of the consumer deposit market." Date stressed that fixing the mortgage space will be a tough job since excessive home lending became the "epicenter of the global financial crisis." "The truth is we got into this mess one lousy mortgage at a time," he said. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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