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What the banks’ three-year war on Dodd-Frank looks like

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Graphics by Ben Chartoff and Amy Cesal. Network analysis by Alexander Furnas. In the three years since President Barack Obama signed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, federal regulators charged with implementing it have opened their doors to the biggest banks over and over again – 14 times as frequently as they have to representatives of consumer and pro-financial reform groups, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis finds. By most accounts, the banks’ besiege-the-regulators strategy has yielded rich rewards in sapping, slowing, and stymieing regulations intended to prevent another massive financial crisis. The emerging consensus is that Dodd-Frank implementation is limping, while the big banks are poised to return to being the most profitable industry in the U.S. Sunlight’s analysis is based on logs of Dodd-Frank meetings at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Board., available through Sunlight’s Dodd-Frank Meetings Tracker. Because of problems with data quality and comprehensiveness, we had to exclude two other regulatory agencies (the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission). And because of the time involved in data cleaning, we also excluded 22 percent of reported meetings – those that did not include “active” players. (By “active” we mean organizations that showed up at least five times in meeting logs.) For more on the data, see our methodology section at the end of this post, and read our companion piece, “Dodd-Frank meeting data need improvement.” Still, the imbalances our analysis reveals are so overwhelming that we can be confident that they are not merely a feature of the reporting practices.

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A win for open data: CFPB’s consumer complaint database

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Here’s another win for open data. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau releases data on which banks have the most consumer complaints. Even before the data becomes public officially, banks start improving response times and responding more favorably to customer complaints. That’s the story that’s emerging from the CFPB’s bold decision to make bank consumer complaint data public. This is exactly what open data is supposed to do. It equalizes the balance of power. In this case, it has empowered consumers, and brought accountability to big banks.

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CFPB launches public consumer complaint database

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Despite opposition from the financial industry, the newly minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today launched a public database of consumer complaints about credit cards--including the name of the company issuing the card--received since June 1. The beta version of the database is available for viewing and downloading on the agency's website. The Bureau plans to add to and tweak it in the months ahead with complaints about other financial products, such as mortgages, student and other types of loans, and banking charges and fees.

"No longer will consumer complaints only be known to the individual complainant, bank, regulator ...

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Three Cheers for the CFPB

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau LogoThe financial watchdog agency announced an ambitious open source policy today, and we couldn't be more pleased at the news. The CFPB's announcement post does a great job of explaining their rationale: open source makes innovation easier, lock-in harder, and delivers value to taxpayers both by keeping procurements competitive and making sure their outcomes can be broadly shared.

It wasn't too long ago that government was scared of even using open source code, much less publishing its own. Its growing embrace by agencies like the CFPB and NASA is a testament to the hard work of organizations like Open Source for America. But it's also reflective of a long-established US norm that's only now being translated into the digital age: the federal government belongs to all of us. That's why our country's publications aren't copyrighted; it should be why its code is freely licensed, too.

At any rate, it goes without saying that Sunlight loves open source technology -- it's something we believe in and enjoy using. It's great to see that the CFPB feels the same way.

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CFPB Releases Their Redesigned Mortgage Forms

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one of CFPB's proposed form one of CFPB's proposed forms

Find loan forms confusing? Wish there was a team out there that was working to make them easier for you? Well, you're in luck! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has set out to redesign mortgage disclosure forms, making them easier for citizens to understand the loans they're accepting when purchasing a home. The CFPB team should be commended for making their design process transparent and involving the public as much as possible. The more importance that is placed on design, the more informed citizens will be — hopefully this will lead to a stronger mortgage lending system.

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