by Jeff Sovern
The report is here. I played hooky from the AALS Financial Serices & Consumer Financial Services program to listen to the Bureau's simultaneous event to release the report (don't tell Rory Van Loo). I haven't read the voluminous report but some comments on the remarks at the event: I learned that when Director Kraninger convened the Taskforce, she identified as one of her principal goals that the Taskforce members reach consensus. That may explain why the members don't appear to be diverse, ideologically or otherwise. It also may explain why the Taskforce wrote in its Small Dollar Credit section that "[I]nterest rate caps should be eliminated entirely" and "States should reconsider, update, or eliminate usury laws as appropriate, recognizing the high costs they impose by denying valuable services to consumers who need them." Volume 2, Recommendations p. 94. Plenty of consumer advocates disagree. The Taskforce members emphasized during the event the importance of competition among financial services providers, which makes it even more ironic that there doesn't seem (at least from the outside) to have been competition from competing views within the Taskforce. Don't get me wrong: I agree that competition among financial service providers is valuable, and I agree with some of the other ideas expressed during the event, such as the call for faster check-clearing. But a Taskforce that better reflected America and its diverse viewpoints, and included consumer advocate members, would have been preferable. For one thing, a consensus reached among a more diverse Taskforce would have more support for consequent changes in the law. And I see nothing wrong with a Taskforce that expresses different perspectives, because the airing of differences helps people to understand different arguments and their relative strength. In any event, I look forward to reading the report; I hope to learn from it; I am curious to see what the Taskforce came up with; and I congratulate its members on the timely production of their report, during a pandemic, no less.