The story of the financial crisis has a thousand twists and turns, but the basic narrative is easy to follow. The financial industry wrote rules that allowed it to act recklessly. The industry captured agencies that were supposed to regulate it, taking cops off the beat and funneling enormous resources into the political process to make sure there wouldn't be any new cops. Then, with no laws to hold them back, the banks made hundreds of billions of dollars on the sales of deceptive products.
That went on for years, and the industry's tricks-and-traps pricing got more and more out of control. Eventually, the sale and re-sale of deceptive mortgages and other dangerous products made trillions of dollars for Wall Street while bringing down the American economy. When the industry's recklessness brought the biggest banks to the brink of collapse, Wall Street turned to the taxpayers for bailouts and guarantees, which put it right back into big profits and big bonuses. The industry got whatever it wanted.
Now we are coming to the final chapter of this story.
The final chapter will show whether we are going to let the industry continue to write the rules -- to keep the cops off the beat -- or whether the financial crisis actually changed something.
The fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency will be the best way to follow the story moving forward because consumer products were the most abusive and because the CFPA has real muscle to stop those abuses. The CFPA would hire new cops and change the way big banks do business.
We have all worked hard to make the CFPA into a reality, and the next few weeks will determine whether our hard work will make a difference for families or whether families will lose once again. The next few weeks will determine whether families will have to play by rules written by the banks and for the banks -- rules that let the industry get away with anything. In my view, we cannot let families lose again.
Like you, I read last week that the consumer agency is dead. I also read the same thing last spring, last summer, last fall, and last month. And I've been warned about the power of the banks since I first developed this idea in 2007. We always knew this was a David v. Goliath fight, but I don't believe that Washington can or will let Wall Street act like nothing has changed.
This is not the last important moment in the fight for the CFPA, but it is a critical one. You can count on me to do my part. Please help.