Personal Finance

New Watchdog Gives Sneak Peak at Her Agenda

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In her first conversation with reporters about her top priorities as the nation’s newest consumer watchdog since taking the job as leader of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren said she will focus first on simplifying the paperwork that goes with mortgages so that consumers can actually understand it.

“The consumer agency will make it easier for a family to see the costs and risks of a mortgage upfront and will give them the tools to make the choice that is right for them,” Warren said in a conference call on Wednesday, according to a story by The New York Times.

Next, Warren wants to chop credit card agreements down to one single, easy-to-understand page. The aim in this, she said, is “empowering consumers to make direct comparisons between products and restoring competition.”

The announcement did not surprise. Warren has talked for years about the ever-expanding credit card contract, many of which ramble on for 30 pages and seem designed to confuse rather than illuminate.

“We want to focus on the consumer-credit products that families deal with nearly every day,” Warren said, according to a story by MarketWatch.

What may be surprising is how Warren plans to make the new agency function. Most regulatory agencies are slow by nature, since they must wait to receive many formal complaints, often on actual paper, before even beginning to consider whether to respond.

In the call, Warren hinted that the first consumer watchdog of the digital age will have to move faster. She talked of creating “a rapid-response approach to policing credit markets” using new technology.

“We’re not building a new regulatory agency in the era of the typewriter and broadcast television,” Ms. Warren said, “we’re building the consumer agency in the age of iPhones and the Internet.”

Here’s a White House Q & A with Warren, which aired in October:

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