Senator Elizabeth Warren At Banking Hearing On Consumer Finance Regulations
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[Senator Elizabeth Warren At Banking Hearing On Consumer Finance Regulations]
[Elizabeth Warren:] Source: LYBIO.net
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Senate Republicans called this hearing today to talk about the costs of regulating consumer financial products like mortgages and payday loans and credit cards. I want to focus on the other side of the equation and that is the cost to American families of failing to regulate consumer financial products. Mr. Chanin, as Senator Brown mentioned from 2005 to 2011 you held top positions in the Federal Reserve’s division of consumer and community affairs. And in those positions you had both the legal authority and the legal responsibility to regulate deceptive mortgages, including dangerous subprime lending that sparked the 2008 financial crisis. But you didn’t do it, despite years of calls and even begging from consumer advocates and others asking you to act. Instead you did essentially nothing.
Now, your failure had devastating consequences, the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission identified, and I’m quoting here, “the Federal Reserve’s pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” as the “prime example” of the kind of hands off regulatory approach that allowed the 2008 crisis to happen.
Now, according to the Dallas Fed, that crisis cost the American economy an estimated $14 trillion. It cost millions of families their homes, their jobs, their savings. It devastated communities across America.
So when you talk now about how certain regulations are too costly or too difficult to comply with, you sound a lot like you did before the 2008 crisis when you failed to act. So my question is, given your track record at the Fed, why should anyone take you seriously now.
[Leonard Chanin:] So, since you were responsible for creating the CFPB, you know and set forth the notion that they should be a data driven organization, and we can debate whether they are or not, but I can assure you the Fed was and is a data driven organization. There were simply no data provided to the Fed, on a statistic… Let me finish please senator. On a statistical basis, that suggested that there was a meltdown in the mortgage market in 2004 to 2006.
[Elizabeth Warren:] I am sorry. Are you saying, there were no data in the lead up to the financial crash that showed the increasing default rates on subprime mortgages, and what they were doing to communities across America, did you have your eyes stitched closed?
[Leonard Chanin:] It was anecdotal evidence to be sure.
[Elizabeth Warren:] I’m not talking anecdotal.
[Leonard Chanin:] That there was no hard data.
[Elizabeth Warren:] Are you telling me you never saw any data about the increases in mortgage foreclosure rates before the crash in 2008, is that what you’re saying here? Oh my god.
[Leonard Chanin:] No hard data was presented to the Fed until the crisis erupted in 2008.
[Elizabeth Warren:] Let’s just be; let’s just be clear, if you want to defend your tenure. It’s not just me or consumer advocates who are calling your Fed tenure a disaster. The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission spent years looking into the causes of the crisis and identified the Fed’s failure to regulate subprime mortgages, as one of the key drivers of the collapse of 2008 that was you. Even former chair Greenspan admitted that the Fed made a mistake by failing to regulate subprime mortgages, that was you. If you are still defending your time at the fed, and saying you had no information about a problem that was emerging, then frankly that raises even more questions about your judgment.
[Chair:] Senator, do you have a question?
[Elizabeth Warren:] I do.
[Leonard Chanin:] Ok, thank you.
[Elizabeth Warren:] And I will get there. But thank you for indulging me on this Mr. Chanin. After the crisis you joined the CFPB to oversee the agency’s rulemaking, within a couple of years ago, you sailed through the revolving door to a big law firm, where according to the webs – website for this law firm, your job is “to counsel financial institutions on consumer finance issues.” Now after taking that job, working for banks you were quoted as saying that you “lost faith that the agency would become a truly independent entity and carefully balance consumer costs and access to credit with consumer protection.” So, the question I have is; does that mean that you want the CFPB to operate more like your division of consumer and community affairs at the Fed did before the 2008 crash.
[Leonard Chanin:] No, in my view, the CFPB does not appropriately balance consumers need for access to products, and the fact that if costs are excessive that institution simply will not offer those products.
[Elizabeth Warren:] I’m sorry Mr. Chanin, if you’d answer the question that I asked. The question is; do you wanted to operate more like your division of consumer and community affairs did at the Fed before the 2008 crash?
[Leonard Chanin:] The CFPB was created as an independent agency; I don’t think it fulfills that role if it doesn’t serve the two mandates set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act of access.
[Elizabeth Warren:] I’m sorry Mr. Chanin, I asked you a question, you wanted to hear a question, could I have an answer to the question?
[Leonard Chanin:] I’m –
[Elizabeth Warren:] Are you asking for the CFPB to operate more like the agency that you directed that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission said played the pivotal role in the crash of 2008?
[Leonard Chanin:] I don’t think that’s the goal of the CFPB. The goal is twin access and fairness, and it has not satisfied that need for access.
[Elizabeth Warren:] Source: L Y B I O . N E T
I will take it then that you don’t want to answer this question. You know, Mr. Chanin, when I was setting up the CFPB, I was told that even though you played a key role in blowing up the economy – that I needed to hire you because you were one of the few people with the technical expertise needed to write the Dodd-Frank rules. Now people said that you and your team made a terrible decision that helped crash the economy, but we needed to keep you all around because you were the only ones who really understood the mistakes that had been made. And when you wanted the job at the CFPB, you claimed that you had learned from your failure, but I see today that’s obviously not the case.
Of all the people who might be called on to advise Congress about how to weigh the costs and benefits of consumer regulations, I am surprised that my Republican colleagues would choose a witness, who might have one of the worst track records in history on this issue. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
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