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Howell Jackson

  • Photo illustration of U.S. Treasury Department seal on smartphone screen

    Digital Treasury accounts would expand banking access for financially vulnerable

    March 30, 2022

    In recent paper, Howell Jackson and Timothy Massad propose that the U.S. Treasury Department implement a new mechanism to improve financial services for financially vulnerable households and expedite delivery of government benefits.

  • The Treasury Option: How the US can achieve the financial inclusion benefits of a CBDC now

    March 10, 2022

    A paper co-written by Howell Jackson: As public debate heats up over whether the United States should create a central bank digital currency (CBDC), there is another option that deserves consideration:  Treasury Accounts.  The Treasury Department could, relatively quickly, create digital accounts to provide payment services that would be especially valuable to unbanked and underbanked individuals.  These accounts might not possess all the technological advances of a full-blown CBDC, but they would be much easier to establish and could be implemented now under existing statutory authority.  Importantly, Treasury Accounts could immediately improve access to financial services for the millions of Americans who have limited access to banking services today and also greatly facilitate the distribution of federal benefit programs to all Americans.  Treasury Accounts are not an alternative to CBDCs but rather a faster, easier way to achieve some of the primary objectives of those who favor creating a CBDC.

  • Biden Lags on Plan to Forgive Student Debt, Frustrating Supporters

    February 2, 2022

    Joe Biden said during his presidential campaign that he would reduce student debt for millions of Americans, but his allies remain divided on the issue, and some of his supporters are losing hope he will deliver. ... “Administrative agencies have more latitude” with courts when they go through the regulatory process, said Howell Jackson, a Harvard law professor.

  • An illustration of an open bank vault with digital currency inside represented by small white squares

    The Crypto of the Realm

    January 31, 2022

    A Harvard Law class explores possibilities for a U.S. central bank digital currency, which would be sheltered from the wild fluctuations in value for which crypto is known.

  • Calls for student loan forgiveness expected to intensify as Biden’s legislative agenda stalls

    January 10, 2022

    President Joe Biden’s ambitious social spending and climate-change package of legislation, the Build Back Better Act, appears unlikely to pass as originally written after the moderate West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin declared his opposition in the days before Christmas and reiterated this week that there are no ongoing discussions over the bill. ... But there are few other policies that could motivate Biden’s base more than student loan forgiveness, given that voters with college degrees support Biden as president in much greater numbers than voters without degrees. ... “Everybody agrees that the Secretary of Education is empowered to make adjustments on federal student loans,” wrote Howell Jackson, a Harvard University law professor in an April article in the Regulatory Review. “The debate turns on the precise meaning of provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which confer upon the Secretary the power to ‘consent to modification’ of, and to ‘compromise, waive, or release,’ amounts due on certain student loans.”

  • Group discussion around a table

    Reading the law

    November 10, 2021

    Harvard Law School’s upper-level reading groups give students the opportunity to dig into unique subjects connected directly — or not — to the law.

  • Treasury report calls for stricter oversight of stablecoins

    November 8, 2021

    The Biden administration is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen government regulation of stablecoins, a form of cryptocurrency that has soared in popularity in the past year. ... Until Congress acts, the working group said that the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a broader collection of financial regulators responsible for spotting risks to the financial system, could coordinate steps to protect investors and oversee stablecoin issuers' reserves. “It would force them into the regulatory perimeter, which is the thing that most people think is appropriate,” said Howell Jackson, a financial regulatory expert at Harvard Law School.

  • The U.S. Treasury is Worried About Stablecoin. Here’s Why

    November 2, 2021

    The Biden administration is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen government regulation of stablecoins, a form of cryptocurrency that has soared in popularity in the past year. In a 22-page report issued Monday, the Treasury Department and several other regulators said the legislation should require that stablecoin issuers become banks, which would potentially subject them to a wide range of rules, including those requiring that banks hold sufficient cash reserves and implement measures to prevent money laundering and other illicit activities. ... Until Congress acts, the working group said that the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a broader collection of financial regulators, could coordinate steps to protect investors and oversee stablecoin issuers’ reserves. “It would force them into the regulatory perimeter, which is the thing that most people think is appropriate,” said Howell Jackson, a financial regulatory expert at Harvard Law School.

  • A check from the United States Treasury surrounded by 100 dollar bills.

    ‘A huge crisis that we’ve never experienced before’

    October 7, 2021

    Harvard Law Today recently spoke with Harvard Law School Professor Howell E. Jackson about what could happen if the United States defaulted on its debts for the first time in history.

  • What will happen if the U.S. blows through the debt limit?

    September 28, 2021

    As lawmakers on Capitol Hill make their ways through the infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion spending bill, two potential scenarios are haunting the negotiations. ... Those at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department probably are scrambling to prepare what-if scenarios, according to Harvard law professor Howell Jackson — like prioritizing debt or paying everyone really slowly. “But I should emphasize that we really don’t know how it would work and whether they should do it,” Jackson said. “And I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that this is very dangerous territory.”

  • Payment deferrals were a lifeline for millions during Covid. What happens when those end?

    March 29, 2021

    The federal government's response to Covid-19 has allowed millions of Americans to defer payments on their mortgages, rent, student loans and utility bills. But as more people are vaccinated and the country sees a return to normal life on the horizon, payments on trillions of dollars of those debts could resume soon, even if debtors remain out of work or in financial distress because of the economic crisis the outbreak wrought... "As the pandemic winds down, there is a lot of debt overhang: deferred rent, deferred mortgages, deferred student loans. We've basically been living in suspended animation until the pandemic ends," said Harvard Law School professor Howell Jackson, an expert on financial regulation and consumer protection who was a visiting scholar at the CFPB from 2013 to 2015. "And at some point there is going to be an extraordinary number of people out there who are very vulnerable with debt, and we are going to have major debt collection issues," he said. "We have already seen issues during the pandemic with payday lenders." ... Jackson of Harvard said many debts also have statutes of limitation and become invalid after a certain period of time. "It's critical to make sure consumers know they have rights in this area," he said. "There are a lot of substantive protections in the debt collection space."

  • UPS driver making a delivery

    Helping the financially vulnerable find stability

    March 25, 2021

    Last year, Harvard Law Professor Howell Jackson and students in his FinTech class worked with a national nonprofit to help the United Parcel Service create an emergency savings program for 90,000 of its nonunion workers.

  • ‘A cop on the beat again’: Biden looks to reassert consumer watchdog agency sidelined by Trump

    March 23, 2021

    The Biden administration is working to reassert the government's top consumer watchdog, which was sidelined by President Donald Trump, just as the U.S. economy is showing signs of revving up. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, hollowed out and politicized under Trump after his administration failed to eliminate it outright, is a regulatory agency created by former President Barack Obama in response to the last economic crisis. Democratic lawmakers, consumer finance experts and former CFPB employees say the groundwork is being laid for it to re-emerge as the aggressive enforcement entity it was originally envisioned to be, at a time when millions of Americans face unprecedented financial hurdles resulting from the pandemic...Harvard Law School professor Howell Jackson, an expert on financial regulation and consumer protection who was a visiting scholar at the CFPB from 2013 to 2015, said aggressive enforcement of fair-lending statues is one area in which the agency can make a big difference. That would include making sure credit and equity are available to low-income consumers and minorities and ensuring that the emerging financial technology sector is working in a way that benefits those groups, he and other experts said.

  • David Cope

    David Cope: 1948-2021

    March 5, 2021

    A brilliant intellect and devoted, compassionate teacher, Harvard Law School Lecturer on Law David Cope taught at the school for more than 20 years.

  • The Trump administration quietly spent billions in hospital funds on Operation Warp Speed

    March 2, 2021

    The Trump administration quietly took around $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by Covid-19 and used the money to bankroll Operation Warp Speed contracts, four former Trump administration officials told STAT. The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have used a financial maneuver that allowed officials to spend the money without telling Congress, and the agency got permission from its top lawyer to do so. Now, the Biden administration is refusing to say whether the outlay means there will be less money available for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and other providers...But several attorneys said HHS officials likely had wiggle room in the language of the Covid-19 relief bills to spend funds on Operation Warp Speed contracts. Lawmakers gave HHS broad authority to decide how to distribute money in the Provider Relief Fund, though so far the publicly announced grants have gone to more traditionally defined health care providers. Ted Waters, a managing partner at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, said courts generally defer to expert federal agency interpretation on use of funds unless there’s a clear conflict. A supportive HHS Office of the General Counsel opinion could help protect individuals from liability, said Harvard Law School professor and federal budget expert Howell Jackson.

  • VERIFY: Fact-checking speeches from final night of Democratic National Convention

    August 21, 2020

    The VERIFY team fact-checked what Joe Biden and other speakers said during the final night of the DNC. …  Claim:  Biden said “He’s (President Donald…

  • Will the executive order on payroll taxes impact Social Security?

    August 12, 2020

    On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump signed numerous executive orders, meant to address the economic crisis caused by coronavirus. The political background to the move was a stalled negotiation process in Congress, where Democrats and Republicans have so far been unable to come to an agreement. The Verify team is addressing three big questions relating to the executive order deferring payroll taxes through the end of the year, including how the order could impact the Social Security fund...Will people receive larger paychecks, starting in September, as a result of the executive order? This depends on where someone works, according to Howell Jackson, a Law Professor at Harvard University. Some companies will decide to pay their workers what is no longer collected in taxes. Others may choose to hold on to the extra revenue, in case it needs to be repaid to the federal government in January.  "If you are sitting in an HR department, you’re talking to your attorneys about what to do," Jackson said. "This conversation is probably happening in 100,000 places today.” Will the executive order impact the Social Security fund? This remains unclear. Payroll taxes do go to programs such as Social Security and Medicare, thus a gap in funding could impact available funds. However, since this is a deferral, the money should presumably make its way to the fund eventually.  This question would become even more complicated if the federal government decided to forgive the tax, as suggested by President Trump at a recent press conference. This type of action can only be authorized by Congress. "If the payroll taxes are never paid into social security that will weaken the trust fund," Jackson said. "It won’t hurt benefits immediately. But in 10 to 12 years' time, it could have an impact.”

  • Software Is Toast Inc.’s Bread And Butter, But Data Could Bring New Revenue

    November 13, 2019

    Toast Inc. achieved a $2.7 billion valuation this year by making software used by tens of thousands of restaurants. Now, data the Boston company has collected about those restaurants could yield new revenue. The company is launching a program called Toast Capital that will allow select clients to borrow as much as $250,000 for kitchen equipment, renovations or other expenses. In an example of how information can become currency in the digital age, Toast plans to earn interest on the loans without putting up its own money. Instead, a business partner -- Utah-based WebBank -- will provide the financing. The contribution from Toast, whose software powers sales and payroll transactions, will be insight into the famously tough restaurant industry — insight that may help predict which prospective borrowers would succeed enough to pay back their loans and which would default...Mary Zeven, director of the graduate program in banking and financial law at Boston University School of Law, said "partnering with a Utah bank, where Utah has loose restrictions on usury, will allow higher interest rates than a Massachusetts bank." Howell Jackson, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in financial regulation and consumer protection, added that it is "common practice" for companies running lending programs to partner with Utah banks for this reason.

  • Taking corporate social responsibility seriously

    September 19, 2019

    ... Recently, in order to achieve wide exposure to public equity markets, Harvard Management Company (HMC) has come to rely increasingly on pooled investments and commingled funds typically managed by outside investment firms, rather than directly owning stock in individual companies. This has led to a review of ACSR’s [Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility] role and as a result, going forward, the committee will focus on developing guidelines that can help inform Harvard’s external investment managers, and other interested investors, as they vote on a broad array of shareholder resolutions. ... The Gazette recently sat down with outgoing ACSR Chair Howell Jackson, the James S. Reid Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, to better understand some of these changes, and to get a sense of how the ACSR fulfills its role.

  • Considering the Consumer

    June 21, 2019

    Many faculty members at HLS focus their research on aspects of consumer law and protection.

  • Robert Sitkoff

    Sitkoff, HLS authors contribute to the study of fiduciary law

    April 29, 2019

    Harvard Law School Professor Robert H. Sitkoff has co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law, a handbook, slated for release today, that features important contributions from Sitkoff and from several other HLS scholars to the growing field of fiduciary law throughout its 48 chapters.

  • ‘Hard Lines to Draw’: Harvard Balances Roles as University, Investor

    February 22, 2018

    Harvard’s investment decisions often grab headlines. Protesters have blockaded administrative buildings and staged sit-ins in downtown Boston to oppose the University’s investments in fossil fuels and private prisons. And University President Drew G. Faust has publicly opined on whether or not it is wise to divest from controversial assets. Meanwhile, two University committees routinely make a set of less visible—yet ethically challenging—decisions about how to act as a shareholder in its existing investments. At the meetings of these committees, Harvard takes public stances on issues ranging from climate change to the rights of indigenous people in its capacity as a shareholder...Howell E. Jackson, a professor at Harvard Law School and the chair of the ACSR, said the committee carefully researches and deliberates on every proposal it considers. “There is actually a huge amount of background reading,” Jackson said. Once the ACSR makes recommendations about each proxy vote, it sends them to the CCSR, which Jackson said has a tradition of “overwhelmingly following” the ACSR’s recommendations.

  • Why Government Shutdowns Are a Much Bigger Deal Than They Used to Be

    January 19, 2018

    Money to keep the U.S. government up and running could be about to run out — again. As of Thursday, Congress still hasn’t reached an agreement on passing the 12 appropriation bills that the provide annual budget, and its third extension on making that decision is about to expire on Friday...During the Carter administration, Congress couldn’t pass the budget on time, and President Carter asked Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti how that would affect the management of the federal bureaucracy. Civiletti returned with a legal opinion on the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1870...Over time, however, enforcement of the law grew lax...Then, in an April 1980 opinion, Civiletti wrote that there is no gray area on this issue. The opinion didn’t overrule any longstanding precedent, Howell Jackson, professor at Harvard Law School, tells TIME, but it still made a big difference.

  • Uncertainty at the agency Elizabeth Warren helped create

    November 28, 2017

    Employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau returned to work after Thanksgiving break Monday to an unusual scenario: They had two bosses, separated by an ideological gulf, who were battling in court to lead them. In what could have made a decent reality TV plot dreamed up by Donald Trump in his previous jobs on the small screen, the president dispatched his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to take control of the independent agency as acting head after the departure of its former chief, Richard Cordray. But Cordray’s handpicked successor, Leandra English, the bureau’s former deputy director, was not giving up the reins and went to court Sunday night to block Trump’s move...Harvard law professor Howell Jackson, who worked for two years at the bureau as a visiting scholar, said both legal arguments on who can appoint a successor could be considered credible. But until a final determination is made in court, Jackson said, the agency’s work will be disrupted. “I’m sure it’s confusing for the people who work there,” he said. “And it will complicate any actions that are taken until the controversy resolves.”

  • Howell Jackson hosts roundtable on EU-US financial regulation 1

    Howell Jackson hosts roundtable on EU-US financial regulation

    October 12, 2017

    On January 3, 2018, the world will change, according to Professor Howell Jackson. That is the day that the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive — a set of European Union financial regulations that emerged in the wake of 2008, known colloquially as MiFID II — will go into effect.

  • Brexit and its implications for the UK financial services industry

    Brexit and its implications for the UK financial services industry

    October 3, 2017

    Niamh Moloney LL.M. ’93, professor of Financial Markets Law and incoming Head of the Law Department (2018-2019) at the London School of Economics, spoke at Harvard Law School on Sept. 27 on the complex question of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and its implications for the U.K.’s financial services industry.

  • New Skirmish in an Old Battle: Wall Street vs. the Customer

    October 2, 2017

    A corrosive custom forced on investors is finally getting the ax under new regulations in Europe. Too bad some on Wall Street are working overtime to ensure that United States investors don’t get the same deal. The rule change governs how investors pay for brokerage-firm research...Howell E. Jackson, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in financial regulation, thinks the unbundling of trading and research costs would be a boon to investors because of the sunlight it would bring to the financial markets. Under the European rule, Mr. Jackson said in an interview, “consumers can see how much of their commissions are going to research.”

  • SEC forced to try new ways of pursuing bad financial advisers

    September 27, 2017

    The US investment regulator’s powers to recoup losses from financial advisers who break the law were dealt a blow by a landmark Supreme Court decision this summer. But the Securities and Exchange Commission has stressed to the FT that the court’s decision will have a limited impact on its ability to go after wrongdoers...Several legal experts have claimed the case puts the regulator at a considerable disadvantage when seeking redress. “The decision clearly imposes a limit on SEC enforcement powers and may force the staff to rely more on civil money penalties,” says Howell Jackson, a professor at Harvard Law School.

  • The Energy 202: Pruitt accused by watchdog of breaking law by bashing Paris deal

    July 25, 2017

    A Democratic watchdog group is accusing President Trump's top environmental law enforcer of misusing funds to rail against the Paris climate agreement. In a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent Thursday, the American Democracy Legal Fund said Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, one of the Trump administration's most outspoken critics of the climate deal, violated an obscure grassroots-lobbying law called the Antideficiency Act, which bars federal agencies from spending federal money before it has been appropriated by Congress (or in excess of such funds)...The issues raised in the letter "will likely, in my view, be taken seriously by the comptroller general and his staff," said Howell E. Jackson, a law professor and expert on federal budget policy at Harvard, referring to GAO head Gene L. Dodaro.

  • Wells Fargo Whistle-Blowers’ Fate Becomes Just a Footnote

    May 5, 2017

    In November, the newly installed Wells Fargo chief executive, Timothy J. Sloan, told employees that retaliation against whistle-blowers would “not be tolerated at Wells Fargo.”...Last month, Wells Fargo released a long-awaited independent investigation into the scandal, conducted with the assistance of the law firm Shearman & Sterling. The subject of whistle-blowers and how they were treated was relegated to a footnote in the 110-page report. “That’s a red flag in itself,” said Howell E. Jackson, a professor at Harvard Law School and a visiting scholar at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “It’s buried on Page 87. My concern is whether whistle-blowers were handled properly and to what degree the board bears responsibility. You don’t find any answers in this mumbo-jumbo.”

  • Wells Fargo record shareholder rebellion does not mark end of woes

    April 26, 2017

    The shareholder vote against Wells Fargo directors on Tuesday was larger than anything seen at a big US bank during the financial crisis — but without Warren Buffett’s help the rebellion would have been even bigger. For four board members, only the support of the billionaire investor’s Berkshire Hathaway prevented them from being removed from office in the wake of the bank’s bogus accounts debacle...“There is a serious question as to whether any of the directors who received less than 60 per cent of the vote can stay on,” said Howell Jackson, a professor at Harvard Law School.

  • Retirees in Default on Student Loans

    February 21, 2017

    A letter by Howell Jackson and Christopher Healy '17.  Re “Student Debt Past Age 50” (editorial, Feb. 13): As your editorial rightly laments, senior citizens are increasingly finding themselves in default on student loans. These defaults can lead to the garnishment of Social Security benefits, pushing many elderly toward poverty. The garnishment of Social Security benefits is particularly unfair to today’s retirees because until the mid-1990s Social Security benefits were fully exempt from such levies. So, for much of their working lives, many seniors could not reasonably have anticipated that their Social Security retirement benefits would become susceptible to garnishment.

  • Jonathan Lovvorn appointed policy director of the HLS Animal Law and Policy Program

    HLS faculty maintain strong presence in SSRN rankings

    January 19, 2017

    Statistics released by the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) indicate that, as of the end of 2016, Harvard Law School faculty members have continued to feature prominently on SSRN’s list of the 100 most-cited law professors.

  • Corporation Eyes Political Contributions in Shareholder Report

    January 19, 2017

    Harvard supported shareholder proposals calling on corporations to be more transparent about political contributions and internal environmental benchmarks, among other issues, according to a report on shareholder responsibility released Wednesday...An advisory committee—a 12-member panel of faculty, students, and alumni—first considers each proposal before presenting its recommendation to the Corporation committee, whose four members cast votes to determine Harvard’s position...Harvard Law School professor Howell E. Jackson chaired the advisory committee.

  • HLS faculty maintain top position in SSRN citation rankings

    Twelve Harvard Law School faculty among SSRN’s 100 most-cited law professors

    March 22, 2016

    Statistics released by the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) indicate that, as of the start of 2016, Harvard Law School faculty members featured prominently on SSRN’s list of the 100 most-cited law professors, capturing twelve slots among the top 100 law school professors (in all legal areas) in terms of citations to their work.

  • Thirteen Harvard Law School faculty listed among SSRN’s 100 most-cited law school professors

    January 29, 2015

    Statistics released by the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) indicate that, as of the end of 2014, Harvard Law School faculty members featured prominently on SSRN’s list of the 100 most-cited law professors.

  • William P. Alford, Alonzo Emery, Robert C. Bordone, Michael Stein, Matthew Bugher, Tyler Giannini, Noah Feldman, Vicki Jackson, Howell E. Jackson, David Kennedy, J. Mark Ramseyer, Hal Scott, Matthew C. Stephenson, Jeannie Suk, David Wilkins, and Mark Wu

    HLS Focus on Asia: Faculty and clinical highlights

    January 1, 2014

    Some recent faculty and clinical highlights—from research on anti-corruption efforts to conferences on financial regulation.

  • Illustration

    Jointly Held

    October 2, 2012

    A Harvard program immerses students in legal and business training.

  • When Business Law Gets Clinical

    January 1, 2012

    While years ago, clinics at Harvard Law School were focused primarily on poverty law, student demand for business-oriented clinical experiences has since skyrocketed. And for HLS students interested in the business world, there are now numerous clinical opportunities.

  • Summer 2011

    On the Faculty Front: Veteran advocates and novel proposals

    July 1, 2011

    Credit: Christopher Hartlove Elizabeth Warren Poor underwriting, predatory lending, sloppy record-keeping, neighborhood blight, ill-considered or invalid foreclosure decisions, the inability or refusal of banks…

  • Hard Hats Required: The risky business of repairing the U.S. financial system

    July 1, 2010

    Two years after the government bailout of Bear Stearns set off the first shock wave, the Bulletin interviewed HLS faculty and alumni on what went wrong, on where the greatest dangers remain in our financial system and what to do about them.

  • Allen Ferrell, Elizabeth Warren, Hal Scott

    Harvard Law financial experts explore lessons of the global economic crisis

    October 2, 2009

    

A group of Harvard Law School professors gathered on Sept. 29 for a panel discussion on the year-old global economic crisis and the prospects for recovery. 


  • Summer 2009

    Avoiding a Future Meltdown

    July 1, 2009

    As the global economy continues to reel, the key question is how to prevent a crash from happening again. Accountability is key, experts agree, and HLS faculty have been quoted daily in newspapers and online over the past few months on how to keep the economy out of trouble in the future.

  • Acting Dean Howell Jackson

    Class of 2009 Racks up Record 308,605 Hours of Pro Bono Service

    June 4, 2009

    Demonstrating a strong commitment to public service, the class of 2009 put in a record total of 308,605 pro bono hours, more than any previous class.

  • 2008 – Year in Review – Books

    December 13, 2008

    2008 was a prolific year for HLS scholars. Here is a roundup of this year’s faculty books.

  • Howell Jackson

    Jackson says the Treasury’s bailout plan should target bad loans, not burned investors

    September 25, 2008

    The following op-ed by Professor Howell Jackson '82, "Build a better bailout," was published in the September 25, 2008, edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

  • Hearsay: Short takes on the financial crisis

    September 1, 2008

    Who Will Bail Out American Families? Professor Elizabeth Warren
    Chicago Tribune, Sept. 22, 2008 Credit: Getty Images “Lost in the headlines are the…