In 1975 the “fight of the century” took place in Manila. Known as the “Thrilla in Manila”, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali took to the boxing ring to determine once and for all who was the heavyweight champion of the world. As any sports fan knows, Ali won that fight by a TKO decision at the start of the15th round. The fight earned its reputation because of the two men involved. They were both well-trained and totally focused on being champion. Everyone who watched that fight, from then until now, is impressed with the grace and dignity these individuals displayed during each round. Both, many said, were champions regardless of the outcome.
The mortgage industry is now preparing for the next “fight of the century” as two more well-known individuals face off. No, it is not Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury. Instead this fight will be between Trump and CFPB Director Richard Cordray. We all knew it was coming if there was a republican victory at the polls last fall, but when it will begin is still open to discussion. One thing is certain however, it will not be a graceful or dignified fight but a dirty, drag down, litigious drama with no clear winner and the only losers will be the mortgage industry and consumers.
The impetus for this fight began several years ago, as the CFPB was created to stop the abuses of lending companies that lead to the Great Recession. The group was charged with creating new regulations for controlling financial organizations as well as monitoring consumer feedback on these company’s actions as viewed by the consumer. Because of its structure the CPFB had no interest or incentive in listening to or acting on the requests or efforts made by lenders to compromise on the details of these new requirements to make them more amenable or less costly. The examinations conducted by the CFPB resulted in tremendous penalties and fines that appeared to be exorbitant for the violations identified. This abuse of power came to a head with the litigation by PHH against the CFPB. In that case the court ruled not only that the CFPB was incorrect in its determination of the problem, but stated that the actual structure, which required no accountability to either legislative or administrative branch of the government, was basically unconstitutional. The call for significant changes in the organization and the new republican victory created an expectation that the Director would be fired immediately after the inauguration. Director Cordray however gave notice that he will not leave until his term is up next July and if necessary will use the courts to ensure his position. And so, the fight began.
However, this fight is not between two equally strong opponents seeking to show through their training and skills that they deserve to be called champion. This fight is between two egotistical politicians whose interest is focused only in being the destroyer of the other. Although the republicans and their supporters hope that their fighter, Trump, will win, Director Cordray promises to not let that happen. Meanwhile the Trump administration has shown no sign of, or any eagerness to, get into the action. This fight of the century promises to be longer, nastier and much more contentious than the “Thrilla in Manila”. So, hold on to your seats. This is sure to be very entertaining even if it ends up as a draw.