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Fall 2023 Course

Consumer Financial Protection Regulation

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Consumer financial products and services, and especially the wide range of credit products from mortgages to payday loans, play a central role in the everyday lives of most Americans. The availability and use of credit are also large drivers of the broader economy.

Most of these products are provided by financial institutions and “purchased” by consumers in private exchanges. Over the past 50-plus years, Congress has enacted a myriad of consumer protection statutes and in so doing conferred on various administrative agencies substantial discretionary, quasi-legislative authority to regulate how these products are marketed and delivered. In the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, Congress consolidated most of those authorities into a new agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with a broad mandate and even a wider degree of discretion than had previously existed. 

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, auto loans, credit cards, 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. He currently advises nonprofits focused on the impact of consumer finance products and regulations on financial well-being.