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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proved to be a fast-growing and complex agency causing both proponents and opponents to question its current practices. At an AEI event on Monday, panelists discussed the impact of the CFPB's regulatory power on the private market. Keynote speaker John Allison of Wake Forest University argued that financial regulations hinder innovation in the financial sector — innovation that would otherwise be evaluated in the free market.
Peter Wallison of AEI then discussed the constitutionality of the CFPB as an agency, which avoids the normal checks and balances of American government. Wayne Abernathy of the American Bankers Association discussed how the CFPB's broken promises have created a lack of transparency and a highly political agency that has yet to provide any benefit to the consumer.
Anne Canfield of Canfield & Associates noted that the CFPB has the opportunity to design a clear system of mortgage disclosure, but warned that it could also inflict further complications on the consumer by creating a piecemeal system. Jess Sharp of the U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets then discussed that although the CFPB has made mistakes, the agency is capable of meeting the business community halfway. In conclusion, Alex Pollock of AEI emphasized that the key issue is ensuring that borrowers can afford their mortgages through a basic and transparent methodology, which CFPB has failed to provide.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — the highly controversial, actively growing and ambitious child of the Dodd-Frank Act — is approaching its first birthday. Its proponents and opponents agree on one thing: the CFPB was designed to avoid the normal checks and balances of American government.
Views are divided, however, as to whether this represents good Wilsonian administrative independence or a deliberate end-run around the Constitution; indeed, a challenge to the CFPB’s constitutionality has now been filed.
What has the CFPB’s brief history taught us about how it will use its extraordinary powers? What costs will it impose on the private sector? Should it — and can it — be reformed or abolished? What are its prospects in the courts?
The event will begin with a keynote address by John Allison of Wake Forest University. A discussion among a panel of experts will follow.
Registration and Lunch
John Allison, Wake Forest University
Wayne Abernathy, American Bankers Association
Anne Canfield, Canfield & Associates
Guy Cecala, Inside Mortgage Finance
Jess Sharp, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Alex J. Pollock, AEI
Peter J. Wallison, AEI
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Wayne Abernathy joined the American Bankers Association (ABA) in February 2005. He currently serves as the executive vice president for financial institutions policy and regulatory affairs, dealing with policy development, regulatory and compliance issues, bank general counsels, securities and investment, derivatives policy and risk management. Before joining ABA, Abernathy served under President George W. Bush for two years as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial institutions, receiving the Alexander Hamilton Award in recognition of his service. During that time, he was also a member of the board of directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Before working at the Treasury, Abernathy occupied multiple positions at the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, serving as the committee’s staff director from 1999 to 2002, as the staff director of the Subcommittee on Securities from 1995 to 1998 and as a Republican economist for the Subcommittee on Securities from 1989 to 1994 and the International Finance and Monetary Policy Subcommittee from 1981 to 1986. From 1987 to 1989, Abernathy worked as a senior legislative assistant for former Senator Phil Gramm(R-Texas).
John Allison is the former chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, the 10th largest financial services holding company headquartered in the U. S. Beginning his service with the company in 1971, Allison was elected to the position in 1989 and during his tenure until 2008 saw BB&T’s assets grow from $4.5 to $152 billion. In March 2009, he joined the faculty of Wake Forest University School of Business as a distinguished professor of practice. Among his many accomplishments, Allison has received both the Corning Award for Distinguished Leadership and American Banker’s Lifetime Achievement Award, has been inducted into the NC Business Hall of Fame and has been recognized by Harvard Business Review as one of the top 100 most successful CEOs in the world over the last decade. He currently serves on the board of visitors at the business schools at Wake Forest, Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and on the board of directors at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Ayn Rand Institute. Effective October 1, Allison will become president of the Cato Institute.
Anne Canfield is president and founder of Canfield & Associates Inc., where she provides strategic planning, policy advice and representational services to major corporations on federal and state legislative and financial regulatory issues, as well as on health care, tax, trade and budgetary policy areas. She is also involved with Canfield & Associates’ GSE Reports, which track and analyze government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and international organizations’ financial stabilization plans. Previously, Canfield was a principal at McClure, Gerard & Neuenschwander Inc., joining the firm after 10 years at General Electric/GE Capital Services. At GE Capital, she worked directly for the chairman and CEO developing and implementing both corporate policy and legislative and regulatory strategies domestically and abroad. Before joining GE Capital, Canfield had over 11 years of experience on Capitol Hill as a senior staff adviser for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and as a Senate Finance Committee aide.
Guy Cecala is the CEO and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialized news and information company that he founded in 1984. The company produces eight newsletters, numerous special reports, several databases and extensive original research and statistics related to U.S. mortgage finance. Cecala is also a partner and sponsor of the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, a monthly survey that provides up-to-date intelligence on home sales and mortgage usage patterns. Previously, Cecala served as the president of the Specialized Information Publishers Association, an international trade group based in Virginia. Cecala is frequently quoted in major newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has appeared as an expert on the U.S. mortgage market on numerous television channels, including NBC, CNN and Fox Business News. Cecala has also testified before the U.S. Congressional Oversight Panel on current foreclosure problems and their potential impact on the U.S. housing market.
Alex J. Pollock joined AEI in 2004 after 35 years in banking. At AEI, he focuses on financial policy issues, including housing finance, government-sponsored enterprises, retirement finance, corporate governance, accounting standards and the banking system. He also currently serves as a director of the CME Group, the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and the International Union for Housing Finance and as the chairman of the board of the Great Books Foundation. From 1991 to 2004, he was president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. He is the author of numerous articles on financial systems and the organizer of AEI’s Deflating Bubble conference series. In 2007, he developed a one-page mortgage form to help borrowers understand their mortgage obligations.
Jess Sharp is the executive director of the U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC). Sharp oversees the organization’s efforts to support fair, efficient and innovative capital markets, focusing particularly on derivatives regulation, GSE reform and consumer financial protection. Before joining CCMC in January 2011, Sharp spent two years as sole proprietor of a public policy consulting business, where he provided policy and political analysis and helped clients navigate the regulatory and legislative processes. He entered the private sector after 11 years of government service in the legislative and executive branches. Sharp served on President George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council, first as a specialist in transportation and labor policy issues and then as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. In this capacity, he brought together cabinet agencies and outside stakeholders to develop administration policy, advise the president and oversee the implementation of the president’s program. Specifically, Sharp coordinated the president’s efforts on housing and financial services, immigration, transportation and postal reforms, the reauthorization of the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and general health, labor and environmental matters. Earlier, Sharp served on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff, where he formulated policy and legislative strategy, specializing in highway finance, highway safety and railroad issues.
Peter J. Wallison holds the Arthur F. Burns Chair in Financial Market Studies and is co-director of AEI’s program on financial policy studies. At AEI, Wallison researches banking, insurance and securities regulation. Prior to joining AEI, he practiced banking, corporate and financial law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., and New York. From June 1981 to January 1985, he was general counsel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he had a significant role in the development of the Reagan administration’s proposals for deregulation in the financial services industry. He is a frequent contributor to the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and has written a book on campaign finance reform entitled “Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Finance Reform.”