Imagining a new consumer finance regulator

April 13, 2010

Alex Pollock does, and the results are not pretty:

Consider a new, independent regulatory bureaucracy filled with ambitious officers and staffers who are interventionist by ideology, believers that people need to be guided for their own good according to the tenets of “behavioral economics,” social democratic by faith, and closely aligned to numerous “consumer advocates.” They will hardly be content with the project of “improving disclosure,” important as that is.

They will ineluctably embark instead on allocating credit in terms of “improved access” and “fairness.” In other words, they will promote expanding riskier loans, in spite of the fact that making people loans they can’t afford is the opposite of protecting them.

This is why, if such an organization is to be created, it is absolutely essential that it be truly part of, and subordinate to, a regulatory body also charged with financial prudence, safety and soundness, and balancing risks. Better would be not to create it at all, but rather to centralize the responsibility for clear, straightforward key information in a relevant existing regulator—the Federal Trade Commission, for example.

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