Hester Peirce

Hester Peirce

  • Senior Research Fellow
  • Program Director for the Financial Markets Working Group

Hester Peirce is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and program director for the Financial Markets Working Group. Her primary research interests relate to the regulation of the financial markets.

Before joining Mercatus, Peirce served on Senator Richard Shelby’s staff on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. In that position, she worked on financial regulatory reform following the financial crisis of 2008 as well as oversight of the regulatory implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Peirce served at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a staff attorney and as counsel to Commissioner Paul S. Atkins. Before that, she clerked for Judge Roger B. Andewelt on the Court of Federal Claims and was an associate at a Washington, DC law firm.

She currently serves on the Investor Advisory Committee, which advises the Securities and Exchange Commission. Peirce’s work has been published in such outlets as the Hill and American Banker, and she is a regular contributor to Real Clear Markets. She is the editor of, and a contributor to, the book Dodd-Frank: What It Does and Why It’s Flawed, published by Mercatus in 2012.

Hester Peirce earned her BA in economics from Case Western Reserve University and her JD from Yale Law School.

Working Papers

Hester Peirce | Jan 06, 2015
In a new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, senior research fellow Hester Peirce demonstrates that FINRA is not structured in a way to produce high-quality regulation and is not accountable to the government, the industry, or the public.
Hester Peirce | Nov 07, 2014
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholar Hester Peirce shows that such methods undermine public confidence in the regulatory process and harm regulated industries’ compliance efforts due to uncertain requirements and an ever-changing regulatory landscape.
Hester Peirce | May 01, 2014
American International Group, Inc. (AIG), a large insurance company, received a massive bailout during the financial crisis in response to difficulties centered on the company’s multifaceted exposure to residential mortgage-backed securities. The company is back on its feet, albeit in more streamlined form and with a new overseer—the Federal Reserve. This paper focuses on a piece of the AIG story that is rarely told—the role of the company’s securities-lending program in imperiling the company and some of its insurance subsidiaries. The paper argues that regulatory responses to AIG have been inapt. AIG did not need another regulator, but better risk management. The markets would have conveyed that message clearly had regulators not intervened to ensure AIG’s survival. This paper adds the missing piece to the AIG story in an effort to challenge the notion that more regulatory oversight for companies like AIG will prevent future crises.
Hester Peirce, Robert Greene | Apr 02, 2014
For decades, money market funds (MMFs) were thought to be safe, low-risk investments. The financial crisis of 2007–2009 cast MMFs in a new, less favorable light, which prompted calls for reform. Our paper offers a reform alternative that builds on MMF boards of directors and their well-established responsibility for making key decisions for MMFs. After a brief overview of the regulatory history of MMFs, we describe the responsibilities that boards have under current law, the problems MMFs encountered during the crisis, and market and government responses to these problems. Evidence shows that during the crisis, investors were discerning in deciding whether and when to run; more risky, less liquid funds experienced higher volumes of redemptions. This finding, along with our assessment of funds’ boards of directors’ responsibilities, helps to lay the groundwork for considering the various options for addressing problems still facing MMFs, including our proposal to allow boards to gate their funds when faced by potentially destabilizing redemption pressures.

Charts

Policy Briefs

Testimony & Comments

Hester Peirce, Vera Soliman | Sep 10, 2014
The Bureau initiated its database without due consideration of the problem the Bureau was trying to solve or the costs and benefits of the database. Rather than expanding the database’s potential to cause unintended harm, the Bureau should return to the drawing board.
Hester Peirce | Jul 10, 2014
As the Federal Reserve celebrates one hundred years, reform efforts are timely. Consideration of fundamental questions about the Federal Reserve’s role in the regulatory landscape and in the markets should accompany those efforts.
Hester Peirce | May 21, 2014
The flaws in the Bureau’s design impair its ability to operate effectively for consumers. Although more fundamental reforms are needed, incremental reforms will help the Bureau to set appropriate priorities and seek relevant comments before acting. Making the agency more accountable, more transparent, and more focused will also make it more effective at ensuring that the financial system is serving the needs of consumers.
Hester Peirce | Dec 12, 2013
When the Dodd-Frank Act was being developed, one issue under consideration was whether the Board should lose some of its regulatory powers in view of its poor regulatory performance prior to the crisis. Instead, Dodd-Frank substantially increased the Board’s regulatory powers. One of the most important new powers is the authority to regulate nonbank financial institutions designated systemically important by the Financial Stability Oversight Council. So far, General Electric Capital Corporation, American International Group, and Prudential have been so designated, with additional entities likely to follow. These financial institutions will present the bank-focused Board with new regulatory challenges. It is important that the Board respond with well-vetted, tailored regulations that recognize that these entities are not banks and cannot be effectively regulated as if they were.

Expert Commentary

Jan 28, 2015

Monday was Australia Day. To celebrate, the United States ought to take a page from Australia's regulatory reform book. Australia is in the midst of a red-tape cutting initiative, which includes discarding unnecessary regulations and taking greater care in adopting new ones. The United States would greatly benefit from a similar regulatory reform effort.
Jan 16, 2015

The following scene (colored by some creative license) took place at MetLife headquarters last month, when the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) declared MetLife to be a systemically important non-bank financial company. As a consequence, MetLife will be regulated by the Federal Reserve using Dodd-Frank's prescriptive, bank-like regulatory framework.
Jan 14, 2015

In an op-ed last week, Treasury Secretary Lew defended Dodd-Frank against efforts by the new Congress to reform the financial law. In his view, changing-or even suggesting changes to-Dodd-Frank seems to be tantamount to inviting another financial crisis. Far from being the cornerstone of a new era of financial stability, however, Dodd-Frank is more likely to be at the root of a future crisis.
Jan 08, 2015

Few Americans have even heard of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), but the securities regulator is about to become intimately familiar with all Americans' investment portfolios. FINRA recently proposed the Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System, known by the less scary-sounding shorthand "CARDS." In the name of investor protection and investor confidence, FINRA plans to monitor all securities accounts and transactions. Investors should run from this kind of protection.

Contact

Hester Peirce

Books

Podcasts

Hester Peirce | September 10, 2014
Hester Peirce Discusses Her Public Interest Comment on the CFPB’s Proposal to Expand Its Consumer Complaint Database…
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