Meet Elizabeth Warren. In September 2010, she was appointed by President Obama as the country’s first Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent organization within the Federal Reserve. Its purpose is to help protect consumers by providing more transparency in the financial industry for credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products being offered to American citizens.
So what has Warren been doing and saying in the first hundred days since this new agency was announced? Here’s a rundown of what she’s accomplished (and what she hasn’t).
Speaking Out Against Wall Street Bonuses
Warren has been vocal about the fact that Wall Street’s bonus system is contradictory to the rest of the American financial picture. According to some recent numbers, bonuses are expected to increase for employees of major investment banks this year by 5%. This is happening while we continue to endure a sagging economy trying to pull itself out of a recession. It’s unknown what specifically Warren plans on doing about the Wall Street problem, but she’s vocal that something needs to be done.
Allowing State Attorney Generals to Enforce
One of the major plans for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will involve attorney generals at the state level to help enforce policies. This means that top lawyers for states will be able to sue financial companies for misleading consumers, under the auspices of this new bureau. Strong evidence that this movement will be successful is the appointment of Ohio attorney general Richard Corday to head the enforcement division of the new office.
Advocating for Consumers
Angry about Wall Street? With the new bureau, you’ll be able to say something about it. In a recent interview, Warren had this to say: “We got this agency because the American people want it, and they want a voice in Washington … and that’s what I’m here to do.”
The CFPB will be a conduit for people to voice their opinion on financial matters affecting average citizens. Will it be effective? Only time will tell.
The bureau is still in the setup phase; it won’t become an official entity until July 2011. But it looks like it will have the means and legal powers to help all of us. And just maybe, we ordinary citizens will begin to understand the impact of teasers on a mortgage, or what a “derivative” really is.