Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray gave two speeches last week in Seattle that shed light on the new agency's activities. In the first -- remarks at a public hearing -- Cordray talked about the agency's joint efforts with the FTC in regulating debt collection, principally under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. He noted, among other things, that, currently, 30 million Americans are being pursued by debt collectors for alleged debts averaging $1,500 each.
Then, Cordray spoke at the National Consumer Law Center conference. (NCLC is a national organization of consumer lawyers and other consumer advocates.) His speech provided an overview of the CFPB's activities. Here's how he started:
I am especially glad to have the opportunity to be here with you today. At the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we know how hard you fight for consumers. You have been strong in supporting and defending us, without sacrificing any of your fierce candor about your views. Speaking both for me personally, and for the Bureau, we respect you for that. You are advocates in the truest sense of the word. We all have witnessed how much consumers have suffered in the financial marketplace over the past five years. The extreme financial crisis of 2007-2008, and the deep recession that followed in its wake, delivered a devastating blow to American households. Household wealth shrank by trillions of dollars and many millions of people saw their credit standing deteriorate even as credit standards were tightened. We are still digging out from the crisis, as evidenced by many facts and figures and many personal stories. Fully 46 million Americans were living in poverty in 2011. The marketplace can be a hostile place for those who are struggling to stay afloat, who may often pay higher prices for consumer goods, including financial products and services. The cycle of debt makes it difficult for families who find themselves in trouble to get back on track. So today, I would like to talk to you about the efforts we are making at the new Consumer Bureau to improve the daily lives and financial opportunities for consumers.