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Professors Prod Obama to Pick Warren as Head of New Consumer Watchdog

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A group of 141 leading law and other professors from across the U.S. sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, August 3, encouraging him to appoint Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law Professor and former chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, as the first director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The implementation deadline for the Dodd-Frank Act states that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is “expected to assume full authority for consumer financial protection no later than 1 year after enactment” of the Act. But there is no time limit for the appointment of a director to the CFPB. If a director is not named before the consumer bureau is created, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will have interim authority over the CFPB until a director is named

In their joint letter, the professors–which say they specialize in subjects relevant to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and hail from disciplines including law, economics, management, sociology, and political science–list Warren’s many accomplishments. The professors say that one of Warren’s top credentials is that fact that she is “a nationally renowned expert on consumer finance.” (See a full list of the signers and the text of the letter.)

Warren’s “scholarly expertise, along with her work as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, has given Professor Warren a broad, and perhaps unique, perspective on how effective consumer protection is essential for the safety and soundness of the financial system and the health of the American economy,” the letter to Obama states. “She is an effective manager with clear vision and the ability to coordinate complex projects, as demonstrated by her groundbreaking scholarly studies, her work as reporter for the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, and her leadership of the Congressional Oversight Panel.”

The professors go on to say that “in both her scholarship and her public service, Professor Warren draws her conclusions from careful analysis of data. She listens carefully to alternate hypotheses and she is responsive to criticism. She speaks plainly and honestly. She owes no allegiance to the financial services industry or other special interest groups.”