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The Week Ahead: Congress to Test CFPB Director Again

SenateConsumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray will go before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, April 7, to testify for the CFPB’s semi-annual report to Congress.

Cordray is just three weeks removed from his last testimony before Congress; he appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on March 16. During that hearing, Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, one of the CFPB’s most outspoken critics, called Cordray a “dictator” because of the Bureau’s perceived overreach and unaccountability.

The topic of the mortgage industry was largely absent from the hearing in the House Committee three weeks ago, though Cordray did mention during the hearing that the CFPB's “hold harmless” period for those who make a good faith effort to comply with TRID will remain open-ended. The CFPB’s methodology for determining racial discrimination in auto lending was a frequent subject of questioning during that hearing.

Cordray

Richard Cordray

The fact that the mortgage industry barely came up when Cordray testified in the House Committee hearing in March may be a sign of the times. The CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Snapshot released last week reported that for the first time since the Bureau began accepting consumer complaints when it opened in July 2011, mortgages were no longer at the top of the list of the most complained-about financial products (debt collection topped the list in February).

The CFPB, which was created from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, will celebrate its fifth birthday in July.

FOMC Minutes, Wednesday, April 6 @ 2 p.m. EST

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its March meeting on Wednesday, April 6. With the economic picture on the path of improvement, many in the industry are wondering why the Fed was dovish in their decision to keep rates at their current level, while some expect the Committee to return hawkish for future meetings. This week’s minutes from the meeting are expected to provide explanation and insight into what the Fed's plans are this month.

The FOMC stated in a press release  following their March meeting that economic activity expanded at a moderate pace despite the global economic and financial developments of recent months.

"Against this backdrop, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent," the FOMC stated. "The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2 percent inflation.""The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run," the release said. "However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data."

In recent speech at the Economic Club of New York Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen remained dovish when questioned about future rate hikes. “A key factor underlying such modest revisions is a judgment that monetary policy remains accommodative and will be adjusted at an appropriately gradual pace to achieve and maintain our dual objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. Reflecting global economic and financial developments since December, however, the pace of rate increases is now expected to be somewhat slower,” Yellen said.

Events This Week

Tuesday, April 5

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 a.m. EST

Hearing, "Assessing the Effects of Consumer Financial Regulations," Senate Banking Committee, 10 a.m. EST

Wednesday, April 6

FOMC Minutes, 2 p.m. EST

Thursday, April 7

Jobless Claims, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8:30 a.m. EST

Hearing, "CFPB's Semi-Annual Report to Congress," Senate Banking Committee, 10 a.m. EST

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.
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