Magazine article American Banker

Speculation Grows over Who Will Be CFPB's First Leader

Magazine article American Banker

Speculation Grows over Who Will Be CFPB's First Leader

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheyenne Hopkins

WASHINGTON - While it is unclear how fast President Obama will move to appoint a director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if the regulatory reform bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law, observers have already floated a raft of possible candidates for the job.

Potential directors include Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who was an early proponent of a consumer protection agency; Michael Barr, Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions; Eric Stein, Treasury deputy assistant secretary for consumer protection; Allen Fishbein, assistant director for policy analysis and consumer education at the Federal Reserve Board; and Ellen Seidman, a former director of the Office of Thrift Supervision and now ShoreBankCorp.'s executive vice president of mission and strategy.

"The most critical issue is the selection of the first director, who will set the tone of the agency for years to come," said Jaret Seiberg, an analyst with Washington Research Group, a division of Concept Capital. "If you are putting an aggressive director at the get-go, you are establishing a precedent for aggressive enforcement that will be hard to undue in future years."

The most controversial choice remains Warren, but it is unclear if the Obama administration would support her. As the chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel's Troubled Asset Relief Program, she has often been at odds with the Treasury Department. Still, she continues to have the backing of key players on Capitol Hill, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. …

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