Wall Street Wants to Kill the Agency Protecting Americans From Financial Scams

Donald Trump promised he would “do a number” on financial regulations, and it looks like he may finally get his wish fulfilled at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency, created by Dodd-Frank, has returned $11.9 billion to 29 million consumers in its short 5 1/2 year history.

Wall Street’s well-paid surrogates in Congress have been beating up the CFPB and its director, Richard Cordray, at every opportunity. But the CFPB nonetheless carried on with its task of cracking down on sleazy payday lenders and sneaky banks that charged for services that customers never got. Now, though, Cordray has said he’s resigning at the end of the month, giving Trump a chance to replace him. The president’s temporary pick, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, once said “I don’t like the fact that the CFPB exists.” You get the idea.

Gary Rivlin and I took a look at the agency’s accomplishments — and at its foes well-funded attacks — in a piece for The Intercept. You can read it here.

Are you a lowly Main Street investor? Well, nobody cares what you think about financial reform

It’s never a great time to be a lowly member of the investing public looking for protection from the sharks of finance. But today? Well, try to lower your expectations a tad more.

Deep-pocketed banks are dominating the process of writing the new financial rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. It isn’t that there’s nobody advocating for small investors. It’s just that the few organizations that make a case for the public are outgunned by the well-funded financial industry.

“Despite a significant expansion in the number of foot soldiers out there working in the public interest on these financial issues, we are still completely overwhelmed by the industry lobbyists,” Dennis Kelleher, chief executive officer of Better Markets, told me.

I wrote about the lopsided battle to influence the new financial rules in my Bloomberg View column tonight. You can read it here.