• Let's Take a Quick Look at the CFPB—by the Numbers
  • March 19, 2015 | Author: Maurice L. Shevin
  • Law Firm: Sirote & Permutt, P.C. - Birmingham Office
  • Each year, the CFPB publishes an “annual performance report” to let the taxpayers know what's going on in Washington. As far as federal agencies go, the CFPB seems to have figured out how to make money for Uncle Sam! Let's see how.

    In FY 2013, the CFPB launched 160 “supervision activities” at various companies. During the same period, it provided “digital content, materials and decision tools” to 1.9 million consumers. And, it handled +/-144,000 complaints about credit cards, mortgages and other financial products. All on a shoestring budget! Only $541 million. The FY 2015 Budget calls for spending only $583.4 million.

    Interestingly, the budget authority for the CFPB, established by the Dodd-Frank Act, and not annually by Congress, awards the CFPB automatically 12% of the Federal Reserve Systems' operating expenses—estimated to be $618.7 million for FY 2015. However, since the CFPB doesn't seem to “need” as much funding as is available, they only expect to ask for $583 million in FY 2015. Presumably, the balance sits in the CFPB Fund maintained at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and will be available for future needs—a war chest of sorts. Of course, the CFPB also collects money from the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and the Civil Penalty Fund. So, even without seeking its transfer cap to fund its operations, the CFPB is projected to show a profit of approximately $80 million in FY 2015. Not bad at all for a fledgling agency.

    And, how has its mission affected consumer finance companies, aside from costing millions of dollars in worry? Well, it seems that of the 144,000 complaints, only 4,900 are categorized as “consumer loan” complaints. That is less than ten percent...well, more precisely; it is less than 3.5%.

    So, doing the math, that comes out to about $110,000 per consumer finance company complaint. Sounds like a bargain. Of course, this doesn't count the cost to finance companies for the time and dollars invested in responding to complaints “handled” through the CFPB.

    But, the real winner for the CFPB is its 160 supervision actions. That comes to about $3,381,000 apiece.

    Oh yeah. The real winner for the taxpayer is the tool kits. They were provided at a bargain—1.9 million kits on a budget of $541 million is about $285 apiece.

    Granted, this math doesn't truly measure the cost of the complaint resolutions, the budget kits, nor the supervision actions. But, it does give an interesting look at what the Bureau accomplishes with taxpayer dollars.