Speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Special Advisor to the Treasury and Acting Head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rag Date sought to examine the lessons learned from the mortgage meltdown and how the drives the objectives of the new agency.
Date's first major speach since taking the acting leaderhship role of the CFPB was entitled, "Lessons Learned from the Finnacial Crisis: The Need for the CFPB," covered a range of financial topics with a particular focus on the mortgage market.
The need for the CFPB as created by the Dodd-Frank act stemmed from the reality that no single agency previously had the effective tools to regulate and oversee the entire consumer finance market, Date said. He suggested that this resulted in a system where there was no clear or sufficient accountability for managing consumer protection. This has created the goals of the new agency, to serve the entire economy by providing the consumer protections necessary to help families approach borrowing with confidence and provide financial organizations the ability to innovate and be competitive.
Date pointed to the meltdown in the $10.4 trillion dollar mortgage market as the catalyst of the economic downturn, and providing protections against this type of market failure from occurring again is a primary focus of the CFPB.
This has begun with the current efforts by the agency to revise mortgages disclosures to make them easier to understand and easier to compare different offers. The draft reform process has been open to public comment through the agencies, Know Before You Owe project.
He said the agency is also developing new rules that will create common sense safeguards to prevent bad practices and help consumers to choose loans that make sense to them and that they can reasonably afford. In addition, the CFPB is working to ensure they have the infrastructure to maintain consistent supervision and enforcement of the rules to make it clear that they apply to any one operating in the mortgage market.
Date summarized the mission of the CFPB stating, "we will tackle our mission knowing that we are singularly accountable for it. Consumer protection in financial services is a hard job. And Congress recognized that if you don’t make someone singularly accountable for doing a hard job, you shouldn’t expect it to get done well. You can count on us to make sure consumer finance markets actually work – for families, for the honest firms that serve them, and for the economy as a whole. Because some mistakes we can’t afford to make again."