Celebrity Activism: Accountability for Damages?
The scam that is modern art ...

Federal Reserve: So where are the consumers on the 2011 Consumer Advisory Council?

If you want to know why ordinary Americans have a deep suspicion of government and its pandering to special interests, you need go no farther than the perversion of language and intent when announcing consumer-related issues.

Style over substance?

Here we can see an example of style over substance in that the Federal Reserve Board has named ten new members to its Consumer Advisory Council and designated a new Chair and Vice Chair of the Council for 2011 – all the while knowing that the Council will be dissolved and new rules, regulations and disclosure forms will be issued by the recently-created Consumer Financial Protection Board.

The news release headline … “Consumer Advisory Council appointments for 2011”

Advisory status only … “The Council advises the Board on the exercise of its responsibilities under the Consumer Credit Protection Act and on other matters in the area of consumer financial services.” 

Isolated in the beltway and scheduled to be disbanded … “The Council will hold its regular meetings in Washington, D.C., until the designated transfer date upon which certain consumer protection functions will be transferred from the Board to the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act.  As of that date, the Board's Consumer Advisory Council will be dissolved. 

And filled with special interest representatives …

Jim Park was designated Chair of the Council.  Mr. Park is the chief executive officer (CEO) of New Vista Asset Management .

Mary Tingerthal was designated Vice Chair of the Council.  Ms. Tingerthal is the President of Capital Markets Companies for the Housing Partnership Network.

The ten new members of the Council are:

Nancy Andrews, President and CEO, Low Income Investment Fund

Barrett Burns , President and CEO, VantageScore Solutions LLC.

Susan Ehrlich, President of Sears Financial Services

Josh Fuhrman, Senior Vice President, Programs and Policy,  Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

James Gutierrez, CEO, Progreso Financiero

Clinton Gwin, President, Pathway Lending.

Mike Long, Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer, UW Credit Union

Rashmi Rangan, Executive Director of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council

Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition

Jonathan Zinman, Associate Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College

Council members whose terms continue in 2011 are:

Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates

Paula Bryant-Ellis, Senior Vice President, Community Development Banking Group, BOK Financial Corp.

Joanne Budde, President and CEO, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco

John P. Carey , Chief Administrative Officer, Consumer Banking, North America Citigroup

Tino Diaz, Managing Director and CEO, CharisPros – Mortgage Center

Kerry Doi, President and CEO, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment

Betsy Flynn, CEO, President and Chairman, Community Financial Services Bank

Patricia Garcia Duarte, President and CEO, Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix

Ira Goldstein, Director, Policy Solutions, The Reinvestment Fund

Mike Griffin, Senior Vice President, KeyBank, N.A.

Brian Hudson, Sr., Executive Director and CEO, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

Kirsten Keefe, Senior Staff Attorney, Empire Justice Center

Larry B. Litton, Jr., President and CEO, Litton Loan Servicing LP

Andy Navarrete, Senior Vice President, Chief Counsel – National Lending, Capital One Financial Corporation

Jim Park, President and CEO, New Vista Asset Management

Dory Rand, President, Woodstock Institute

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action

Corey Stone, Chair, First Community Bank of New Haven

Mary Tingerthal, President, Capital Markets Companies, Housing Partnership Network

Mark Wiseman, Principal Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Section, Ohio Attorney General's Office

Not one ordinary consumer among them …

Every one of these individuals has an inherent conflict of interest in that their organizations either receive funding from the federal government and/or are regulated by the privately-owned Federal Reserve. Some even represent state governments.

Every one of these people represent a political calculation and the position is basically a resume-builder.

These people will rely on “staff” work and will present the positions of their respective organizations or the positions taken by their industry lobbyists.

And there is not one ordinary consumer among them that is not in a position of influence within their own organizations.

And some of them represent organizations who were or still are connected with some of the most egregious behavior in the financial industry.

“Four months after Litton Loan Services settled a class action accusing the company of imposing bogus late fees, complaints about Litton continue to roll into ConsumerAffairs.com.

Some consumers allege that Litton failed to timely post payments to their accounts, the main issue in the class action. Still others get the run-around from the mortgage servicing company on the possibility of receiving a loan adjustment, leading to confusion and, in many cases, the threat of foreclosure.

As a loan servicer, Litton -- owned by Goldman Sachs -- handles the operational aspects of consumer loans: sending out statements, receiving and tracking payments, notifying consumers of overdue payments, and initiating foreclosure proceedings.” <Source>

Bottom line …

These are the people who are designated with the task of advising the Federal Reserve Board on rules and regulations relating to consumer disclosures. Rules, regulations and disclosures which are carefully crafted to continue to convey or preserve the special advantages enjoyed by the financial industry or their respective organizations. 

One should consider what recent regulations have wrought. Where outrageous overdraft processing procedures have been curtailed, overall bank fees skyrocketed to make up for lost income gained under consumer-adverse practices. No win for the consumer here.

Where outrageous credit card practices were prohibited, the credit card issues designed a new card that is targeted at high-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses which are exempt from those pesky restrictions. No win for the consumers here.

And where new mortgage loan disclosures have been mandated by law, the fundamental assumption that the consumer was not likely to competitively shop for the individual vendors (title, document preparation, inspections, appraisal, etc.) needed to close a loan was ignored and the disclosures became a morass of worthless information that would be ignored by most consumers.

Perhaps the answer is to put real consumers on “consumer advisory councils” or rename them to what they really are: “special interest advisory councils.”

-- steve

Reference Links:

For those wishing to read a fuller biography of the new appointees, it can be found at:

FRB: Press Release--Consumer Advisory Council appointments for 2011 --January 10, 2011

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