Welcome to the age of Probably Not But Maybe.
- Will Washington, DC put an end to the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Probably not… but maybe.
- If the CFPB goes away, will the Federal Trade Commission take its place in terms of regulating the consumer finance and automotive lending industries? Probably not… but maybe.
- Will we get answers to these questions any time soon? Probably not… but maybe.
All of which means that, while massive upheaval may or may not be around the corner, there’s one thing we can count on being ahead in the regulatory future: uncertainty. And no one, even a veteran agency like the FTC, is immune from it.
Our friends and collaborators at Hudson Cook recently hosted a webinar that focused on the FTC in the Age of Probably Not But Maybe, analyzing at some of the ways in which the Commission of 2020 may look substantially different from the Commission we know today. As it turns out, there are only 2 people currently sitting on the FTC’s overseeing committee—3 short of the normal 5-member count. With a staunchly anti-regulation Presidential administration in office, this presents—you guessed it—a whole lot of uncertainty for businesses that are not only currently impacted by the FTC, but may find themselves in its crosshairs should the CFPB evaporate or significantly weaken.
“I think the most important and interesting issue here is there are actually three open slots right now. This is almost unprecedented,” said Hudson Cook partner Joel Winston. “They can conduct business. But obviously with only two commissioners, I think they’re being pretty cautious about what they do. This gives the new administration a golden opportunity to reshape the FTC if they so choose.”
Joel also highlighted the agency’s meager operating budget, which he calculated as enough to keep the Department of Defense running only “for about 5 hours.”
In light of an already scant staffing and funding situation at the FTC, could regulatory pressure on your business start to subside?
I’ll let you answer that.