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, Kristine Johnson | Feb 04, 2015
This comment, which reiterates concerns laid out in the attached opinion piece, does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest group but is designed to assist FINRA as it considers implementing the Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS).
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.

Expert Commentary

Feb 25, 2015

Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo recently lauded the "macroprudentialism". However, macroprudentialists' intensifying focus on the asset management industry offers the latest glimpse into how such an approach could undermine financial stability. Regulators are not wrong to think about the stability of the whole financial system. They are wrong, however, to assume that centralized risk management will foster systemic stability. Instead, it will introduce new vulnerabilities into the financial system.
Feb 23, 2015

The Department of Labor appears to be moving forward with its fiduciary duty proposal. As DOL continues to contemplate change in this area, it should carefully consider the potential consequences of any changes, including the effects on investors of modest means. In crafting the rule and understanding the consequences, DOL should also work with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As has too often been the case in financial services regulation, good intentions could produce bad results for Americans trying to save for retirement.
Feb 23, 2015

Regulatory burdens allow big banks to flourish at the expense of their smaller competitors. Regulations cost more than they are worth, and getting rid of regulations will help financial institutions of all sizes serve customers effectively and affordably.
Feb 11, 2015

It is lamentation season for the few financial regulatory agencies that do not have carte-blanche authority to set their own budgets. The annual ritual should include a mandatory listen to the Rolling Stones: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need." Adding to the existing list of questionable interpretations of the song, financial regulators should hear a comforting message in those lyrics: you may not get the budget you ask for, but-with a little more effort on your part to spend carefully-you might just find that the budget you get is big enough to do your job.

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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