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This piece was originally published in Vogue. 

If Elizabeth Warren offers you a cup of tea, don’t accept. I’ve been known to pinch a penny myself, but when President Obama’s choice to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pulls a rumpled gray object with a tail out of her desk drawer, even I blanch. It looks more like a dead mouse than a used tea bag.

“I know,” she says, laughing, when I express surprise. “But I just can’t stand the waste of throwing out a tea bag after one use. It’s like a knife in the gut for me.”

If you happen to be the CEO of a bank that took federal bailout money or used what she’s called “a trick” or “trap” to charge 30 percent interest for a late credit-card payment, Elizabeth Warren, a petite 61-year-old grandmother with big blue eyes, soft blonde hair, and the honeyed accent of the Oklahoma plains, is herself something of a knife in the gut. With the passage of the historic Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill creating a new agency to regulate the credit industry, that knife finally got a sharp point.

Rebecca Johnson

RJ is a Contributing Editor at Vogue, founder of Moneyhags.com and author of the novel And Sometimes Why.

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