Consumer Confidential: Nominee to head new agency on hot seat


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Here’s your to-infinity-and-beyond Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--He may not be Elizabeth Warren, but President Obama’s nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is promising to play ball with Congress and not be too rough with banks. Even so, Richard Cordray’s chances of winning Senate approval to lead the agency remained uncertain. Republicans have promised to block any nominee to head the agency unless the bureau is changed in ways they say will make it more accountable. Democrats say those changes would weaken its powers. In remarks prepared for his confirmation hearing Tuesday with the Senate Banking Committee, Cordray said his experience as former Ohio attorney general taught him that litigation can be slow, costly and unnecessarily acrimonious. He said he would use lawsuits ‘judiciously,’ and noted that the bureau has other powers to resolve problems, including issuing rules, writing reports and examining large banks and many nonbank institutions.


--The problem with China is that the country just isn’t caffeinated enough. Luckily, Starbucks is stepping up to remedy that situation. The company plans to triple its coffee shops in China during the next four years and step up expansion elsewhere in Asia. Starbucks plans to operate 1,500 outlets in China by 2015 from a current 470, according to the company’s Asia Pacific president, Jinlong Wang. The company also expects to open 700 coffee shops in South Korea by 2016, up from 370 now, Wang said. ‘The coffee industry in China has huge potential,’ Wang told reporters in Singapore. ‘China has 5,000 years as a tea-drinking country, but we’ve created a new coffee culture.’ Starbucks said in July that revenue from its international business rose 20% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier and accounted for 23% of overall sales of $2.93 billion.

-- David Lazarus