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Banks Balk at New Consumer Protection Agency


Lenders fight excessive regulation.

Echoes ripple from the lonely barn, its doors agape, the music of rusty hinges piercing the silence. The horses, long gone, are nowhere to be seen. Yet on the dusty horizon, one can barely make out the silhouettes of badge-wielding regulators astride their trusty steeds, racing in to slam shut those hideous, open doors.

After ignoring repeated warnings about the looming dangers of predatory subprime-mortgage lending, turning a deaf ear to consumer complaints about obscenely high credit-card fees, and generally allowing the financial industry to run amok during decades of wild profiteering and debt-fueled excess, Congress is hastily piecing together a plan to protect consumers from Wall Street.

The Wall Street Journal reports that lawmakers are reviewing draft legislation proposed by the Treasury Department that would create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, or CFPA, whose sole aim would be to protect consumers from the financial industry. The new agency wouldn't oversee securities under the ever-shrinking umbrella of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or most insurance products, but instead would play an active role in drawing up federal mortgage-disclosure requirements, as well as enforcing newly enacted credit-card rules.

And in what should come as no surprise, bankers are up in arms.

The American Bankers Association, a trade association, complained that the new agency would "stifle product innovation." According to the ABA's president Ed Yingling, "Basically, the government is deciding what every bank in every circumstance should offer." (Pssst, Ed, that's because bankers proved downright unable to decide what to do on their own without blowing up the lab.)
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