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Who Will Head the CFPA?

The head of the consumer financial protection agency will have authority over a far-reaching and uniquely powerful new government agency — able to make and enforce rules regarding just about every consumer financial product save, sadly, for car loans made by auto dealers. It is a powerful gig, controlling the financial infrastructure from individuals’ debit cards all the way to Wall Street banks’ business practices. Obviously, nobody knows who President Obama will pick to lead the agency, given that the bill is not even signed into law yet. But there has been plenty of idle speculation about possible candidates — and The Wall Street Journal is first to compile a list:

Democratic leaders in Congress say their top pick for the post is ** Elizabeth Warren**, the high-profile Harvard law professor and an outspoken critic of what she sees as a too-cozy relationship between government and bankers. Other potential candidates include Michael Barr, a Treasury assistant secretary and University of Michigan law professor with a longstanding interest in consumer finance; Democratic state attorneys general Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Lisa Madigan of Illinois and Lori Swanson of Minnesota; Susan Wachter of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who served in the Clinton Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Nicolas Retsinas of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing studies, a former bank regulator and a low-income housing specialist.

Warren seems the most obvious choice — and is certainly the name I have heard the most — though some have pointed out that the White House might consider her too tough for the position. (Why would being doggedly pro-consumer be problematic? That, I do not know.) I have also heard Eric Stein’s name pop up, though that might be due to right-wing advocacy group Americans for Prosperity’s preemptive campaign against him.

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