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Spring 2021 Course

Consumer Financial Market Regulation

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Consumers use bank accounts, debit and credit cards, check cashing services and payment apps to receive, store, spend and save money. They use credit products, from mortgages and student loans to payday and pawn loans, to finance large expenses and cover cash shortfalls. These products and services play a central role in the everyday lives of most Americans and can be especially challenging for those struggling to make ends meet. Further, the markets for consumer financial products – which include over $14 trillion in consumer loans and $6 trillion in consumer deposits – are large drivers of the broader economy. Indeed, it was the collapse of the residential mortgage market that led to the financial crisis and the Great Recession.

Over the past 50 years, Congress has enacted a myriad of statutes regulating consumer finance. In the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, Congress consolidated the authority for implementing and enforcing those statutes in a new agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with a broad mandate and substantial discretionary authority. But what are the limits of that authority, and when, how, and to what extent should it be used to regulate these markets?

This course will introduce students to a set of real-world legal and policy questions that have arisen during the Bureau’s first decade, including questions relating to the regulation of mortgages, the credit reporting industry, credit cards, student loans, payday loans and overdraft services. In lieu of a textbook, there will be readings for each unit which will provide students with a grounding in the underlying product, the governing legal framework, and relevant research findings. Students will evaluate the legal and policy justifications for regulation and develop, advocate for, and critique alternative regulatory solutions. In so doing, students will hone their skills as advocates and regulatory attorneys within a framework involving the intersection of law and policy.

The instructor served as the head of the Division of Research, Markets and Regulations at the CFPB during the Bureau’s first nine years and as Acting Deputy Director of the Bureau for two of those years.