Public Policy Visiting Fellow, Spring 2019
April 30, 2019
Wharton PPI welcomed the former Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, as our Visiting Fellow for Spring 2019. He also was a Distinguished Policy Fellow at Penn Law this semester.
Cordray indeed has had a distinguished and lengthy career in public service, often going to battle to protect constituents’ financial interests. When the global financial crisis hit in 2007-08, Cordray was serving as Attorney General of Ohio, and in that role, filed a number of lawsuits against financial giants whose wrongdoings had left many Ohioans financially wrecked. In 2010, the New York Times estimated that he has wrested about $2 billion from global financial houses, rating agencies, subprime lenders and others, including settlements from Merrill Lynch and AIG.
When his tenure as AG ended in 2011, Mr. Cordray continued to fight on behalf of ordinary citizens by joining the newly-formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, created in response to the financial crisis. He started there as the CFPB’s enforcement chief, before getting tapped to serve as the agency’s first Director. Although the CFPB often has been scorned by Republicans and many in the financial sector, the agency under Cordray’s leadership was enormously popular with consumers and singularly effective in its work, in terms of writing new financial rules, taking enforcement actions, and resolving consumer complaints.
During his time at Wharton, from April 3-5, Cordray engaged with students in a variety of venues. He served as a guest speaker in Professor Brian Feinstein’s “Law and Social Values” course, sharing his perspective on the design and functioning of the CFPB within the broader context of the government’s role in financial regulation. He also participated in an interactive “lunch-and-learn” Q&A session with MBA students, held office hours for one-on-one meetings with students, and headlined a dinner discussion with students from the Public Policy Research Scholars program. Cordray wrapped up his visit by serving as one of the judges for Wharton PPI’s annual public policy case competition, which this year focused on the issue of addressing technology-induced job displacement.
Cordray is currently writing a book about the CFPB, and plans to return to Penn in the fall.