Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 10:54 AM

Boom, Bust & Recrimination: A Consumer Finance, Financial Services Investigation and Enforcement Blog

Mission Statement: The single most obvious common trait amongst all purveyors of consumer finance products is that someone gets money and someone makes money. Identifying, defining, regulating and enforcing principles of fairness in that process is a challenging task rout with competing principles of free-market economics, morality and wildly differing perspectives of “justice.” These concepts are as blurry as the simple truth of debt in our society is clear. American consumers desire more money. And, they want it now and they want but do not demand that it be cheap, so long as it is available. To these subjective tensions and objective desires we have now added newly invigorated government oversight and politics. This will produce interesting times, and we will follow and report upon them without passion or prejudice, but surely with informed opinion.

September 15, 2010

What We Are Not… And What We Are

Starting with what we are not? As important as it is to discuss the substantive and practical changes brought about by the Dodd-Frank Law and its creation of the newest federal regulatory and enforcement bureaucracy, just as important is what you can expect when you subscribe to this blog or even navigate here as an accidental tourist.

First, you will not see advocacy. This is not a place in which policy is being made, though it will be freely debated, criticized and even complimented from time to time. We are not a PAC and our contributors have decidedly different political philosophies. We are practitioners who have noted the dim light of a freight train and vibrating tracks. The light is growing brighter and larger, and whether it is the harbinger of all things good or bad is unknowable. We hope that you will ride along as we seek to follow the path that it takes.

Second, you will not see self-important blogging. Yes, Dodd-Frank is a historic change. For some in the industry it may spell doom. For others, it will be a significant but survivable wave that may eventually be reflected upon as nothing more than an irritating moment in the evolution of free market consumer finance. However, its implementation and enforcement will not be without notable moments and even humor. Mistakes will be made by all involved, us included. We will not overlook or ignore them and, yes, we are not above making a little fun from time to time, including the self-effacing variety.

You will see substantive reporting. We are committed to being current, to focusing on the evolution of the law, regulatory enforcement and information sharing in as efficient and timely a manner as possible. If you see room or manner for improvement along the way, please do not hesitate to share it with us.

We do have opinions. You will see them from time to time. You will not always share them. The fact that you do not share them is not only okay, it is precisely the point. Above all, we will try to be intellectually honest.

Finally, blogging is not "lawyering." It is up to you whether and how you use the information that we post. This is a new landscape and we all will be working to complete it in the months and years to come. The first months will be important ones for the CFPB and the State Attorneys General with whom it will share some power. They will be equally relevant to industry and consumer advocates alike. Everything will be a "first" and nothing will be irrelevant. Tread carefully, as will we. Constant vigilance is the watchword.

-- Chris Jones is a member in Womble Carlyle's business litigation practice group and a leader of the firm's Consumer Finance Investigation and Enforcement Team. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients in both state and federal venues throughout the United States.

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