Just the facts: Dealers, CFPB must share data

Show me yours, and I'll show you mine.

That's part of the impasse between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and auto dealers.

The bureau has accused dealers and lenders of discrimination in auto lending tied to the dealer reserve. That's the added interest that lenders allow a dealership to tack on to an auto loan as compensation for acting as a middleman on the loan. Dealers and their lenders reply that they want to see the data and methodology behind the bureau's accusation.

In turn, dealers argue that there are good reasons why the dealer reserve can vary in size. For example, they say they should make more money on loans to subprime consumers in part because it can take more time to get those consumers financed. The bureau replies that it's waiting to see data supporting that claim.

Both sides should produce the data requested and the methodology behind the data and should be receptive to the explanations they receive, beginning a data-driven dialogue.

It won't be easy. Coming up with data on time spent by finance and insurance managers on each lender will be a long and cumbersome process. And the bureau's failure so far to share its data and methodology implies that the bureau may be less than fully open to data that contradict some of its firmly held views.

The bureau must show that it makes decisions based on a rigorous methodology, not ideology. It is incumbent on the bureau to share its data and be open to numbers from others.



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