The key point to remember here is that had their been a consumer-protection agency, we would have had a critical bulwark against the unethical and often downright criminal lending that ran rampant from 2004 to 2007. That doesn’t mean the regulator would have stopped the conditions on the ground, especially since its mandate from a Bush administration would have been to pretty much get out of the way. But it surely would have had a moderating effect on the predatory lending that went wild. That would have put a damper on the bubble and its aftermath would have been less of a disaster.

If anything’s been made clear from this crash it’s that the banks don’t care a whit about their customers and are so myopic that they don’t understand that overloading them with debt for their own short-term profits makes them unlikely to pay them off in the medium term.

Or as a consumer advocate says:

“It’s obvious from the history of the last 20 years that the regulators never understood that protecting consumers is also a way of ensuring the safety and soundness of financial institutions,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.


Let’s be thankful the press has risen to the occasion in recent weeks on Wall Street’s lobbying efforts. This is critically important.

Keep it up.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.