In a recent wide-ranging memo to the staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney clarified the status of the agency.

  • “When I arrived at CFPB, I told folks that despite what they might have heard, I had no intention of shutting down the Bureau. Indeed, the law doesn’t allow that, and as members of the Executive Branch we are charged with faithfully executing the laws. So let’s be clear: the law mandates that we enforce consumer protection laws, and we will continue to do exactly that under my watch.”
  • “When it comes to enforcement, we will be focusing on quantifiable and unavoidable harm to the consumer. If we find that it exists, you can count on us to vigorously pursue the appropriate remedies. If it doesn’t, we won’t go looking for excuses to bring lawsuits.”
  • Mulvaney also called for “more formal rulemaking on which financial institutions can rely, and less regulation by enforcement.”
  • “In 2016, almost a third of the complaints into this office related to debt collection. Only 0.9% related to prepaid cards and 2% to payday lending. Data like that should, and will, guide our actions.

Summary of other events:

  • January 16 – The Bureau announced that it intends to engage in a rulemaking process so that it can reconsider its Payday Rule.
  • January 17 – A day later, the CFPB announced that it is issuing a call for evidence to ensure the Bureau is fulfilling its proper and appropriate functions to best protect consumers. The Bureau said it will be publishing a series of Requests for Information (RFIs) seeking comment on enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring, and education activities.
  • January 18 – Mulvaney told Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that the CFPB needs no additional funding for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. He added that he questions whether the Dodd-Frank Act allows for the maintenance of a reserve fund. “It is my intent to spend down the reserve until it is of a much smaller size, while still allowing the bureau to successfully perform its functions, before making an additional financial request to the board.”
  • January 22 – World Acceptance Corporation, one of the largest small-loan consumer finance companies in North America, announced that it received a letter from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau indicating the investigation into the company’s marketing and lending practices has been completed. “More importantly,” the company added, “the CFPB noted it does not intend to recommend enforcement action.”
  • January 23 – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted Leandra English’s motion to expedite her appeal of a December ruling by District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly that denied English’s request for a temporary restraining order against Mulvaney. English contends that under the Dodd-Frank Act, she is the rightful acting director of the CFPB, while the Trump administration contends that under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Mulvaney is properly serving as acting director.