The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency decided to fact check some of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s data on the controversial arbitration rule, finding some of the data wasn’t quite adding up.
In its findings, the OCC said that unlike what the CFPB reported, the rule is likely to cause a significant increase in credit costs to consumers.
The CFPB intended its recently announced rule that bans companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses to benefit consumers. The rule would allow consumers to participate in class action lawsuits.
The rule mainly pertains to consumer financial products like credit cards and bank accounts that use arbitration clauses in their contracts to prevent consumers from joining together to sue their bank or financial company for wrongdoing.
“Our new rule will stop companies from sidestepping the courts and ensure that people who are harmed together can take action together,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray when the rule was announced.
OCC economists, however, crunched some numbers on the CFPB data used to support and develop the bureau’s final rule on arbitration agreements in order to verify a CFPB claim.
The OCC stated that the CFPB said analysts were unable to identify any evidence from the data to indicate companies that removed their arbitration agreements raised their prices.
Both the CFPB and the OCC analyzed a working paper published on SSRN.com by Alexei Alexandrov: “Making firms liable for consumers’ mistaken beliefs: theoretical model and empirical applications to the U.S. mortgage and credit card markets.”
According to the OCC’s report, “Given the substantial costs to financial firms estimated by the CFPB, one would expect some of these costs to be passed on to consumers or the availability of certain financial services products to decline where costs could not be recouped.”
The OCC’s review of the data shows that there is an 88% chance of the total cost of credit increasing as a result of the final rule.
On top of this, they claim there is a 56% chance that costs will increase by 3 percentage points or more.
According to the OCC’s review of the data used by the CFPB, the average increase in total cost of credit is expected to be 3.43 percentage points.
The magnitude of the likely effect on pricing is uncertain, but there is a high probability that Total Cost of Credit will increase, the OCC added.
The OCC’s analysis comes shortly after Keith Noreika, the acting Comptroller of the Currency, said that the OCC will not petition the Financial Stability Oversight Council to delay the implementation of the arbitration rule due to Republicans’ efforts in both houses of Congress to overturn the rule using the Congressional Review Act.
According to the most recent update on the rule, Senate is likely to vote on repealing the arbitration rule soon since the Republican push for healthcare reform is seemingly over for this year.