The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently marked its first year in operation. Given the unusual structure of the CFPB — one that I believe reduces transparency and accountability — and the questionable manner in which its current leadership was put into place, diligent and constant Congressional oversight is badly needed.
Had Congress fulfilled its responsibilities in previous years in regards to such entities as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we might have avoided the recent financial crisis. As the CFPB runs the same risk of politicizing our consumer credits markets in a manner similar to which our mortgage market was so highly politicized, I believe aggressive congressional oversight is needed in order to both avoid future financial crises and to maintain a healthy economy.
The problem facing our housing market is a combination of weak demand and excess supply. One of the constraints on housing demand is mortgage availability. If one is a prime borrower and is able to make a substantial down payment, then mortgages are both cheap and plentiful. If one is not, then a mortgage is difficult, if not impossible, to get.
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Mark A. Calabria, is director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute