Financial Markets

Financial Markets


Todd Zywicki | Sep 29, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reviews the law and economics of consumer debt collection and its regulation and concludes that the CFPB should consider all the potential consequences of new regulation—both intended and unintended—to ensure that it will benefit consumers.
Bruce Yandle | Sep 01, 2015
June’s Economic Situation began with Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion searching for the Yellow Brick Road and wondering if it had disappeared. Since then, there’s been a whole lot of shaking going on. In this report, I first take a look back to June and come forward. Then, in the section to follow, I will deal with China, devaluation, and financial market reactions. After that, I cover some specialized topics. Let’s hit the road!
Jason Scott Johnston , Todd Zywicki | Aug 03, 2015
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, law professors Jason Scott Johnston and Todd Zywicki provide an overview and critique of the CFPB’s report. The study criticizes the report using primarily evidence supplied by the report itself. The CFPB’s findings show that arbitration is relatively fair and successful at resolving a range of disputes between consumers and providers of consumer financial products, and that regulatory efforts to limit the use of arbitration will likely leave consumers worse off.
Vern McKinley | Jun 18, 2015
The idea that banks are special was most succinctly summarized by Gerald Corrigan more than 30 years ago in an analysis prepared for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, where Corrigan was president at the time. With the help of his mentor, then Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, his analysis pondered the characteristics of banks that make them special; justified the provision of a supporting safety net for banks based on financial stability concerns; and detailed the costs and restrictions that banks must subject themselves to. But the years since Corrigan’s analysis have seen two severe financial crises,and as the crisis of 2007–2009 clearly revealed, banks are not special, as the safety net was applied to a wide range of nonbank institutions. The Dodd-Frank Act was intended to cut back on the safety net by giving financial authorities wide discretion, but the right approach to rein in the safety net would be to cut back its beneficiaries…
Jason E. Taylor, Andrea Castillo | Jan 13, 2015
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines the use of expansionary fiscal policy to stimulate a contracting economy. The study concludes that attempts to use fiscal policy to solve broader economic troubles have failed even by the theory proponents’ own standards. In addition to being poorly timed and targeted, stimulus spending has led to permanent increases in the size and scope of government.
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.

Testimony & Comments

J. W. Verret | Sep 30, 2015
The explosive growth in federally backed loan and guaranty programs has been an appropriate focus of congressional oversight in recent years. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates the federal government supports over $3 trillion in loans and guarantees. Those loans and guarantees are often shrouded by indirect government support and unreasonable assumptions in government accounting practices. I submit that the Securities Investor Protection Corporation’s (SIPC) provision of securities custody insurance should be an appropriate part of that conversation.
Hester Peirce | Jun 11, 2015
Financial regulation should consist of clear, consistently enforced rules within which customers and financial institutions can freely interact. A well-functioning market enables people who need financing to obtain it efficiently and at a competitive price. Market forces reward financial companies that serve consumers well and discipline firms that fail to provide products and services in a form and at a price that consumers want.
Hester Peirce | May 13, 2015
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—does not make another crisis less likely. To the contrary, it sets the stage for another, worse crisis in the future. Government regulation—from bank regulation to housing policy to credit rating agency regulation—played a key role in the crisis. These policies shaped market participants’ behavior in destructive ways. Dodd-Frank continues that pattern.
Stephen Matteo Miller | Mar 12, 2015
The Bureau should employ its statutory authority to make exceptions to suspend the credit card database program so that it can inform Congress that the costs of such programs outweigh the benefits.
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.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Nov 18, 2015

While we can be confident that new regulations for the debt collection industry are on the way, it's not yet clear whether those regulations will help or harm consumers. The result is largely dependent upon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has the opportunity to either help facilitate open, constructive communication between consumers and debt collection firms, or to saddle the industry and consumers with hasty regulations that result in unintended consequences.
Oct 22, 2015

Overstepping statutory boundaries to go outside the agency's originally intended scope of power, CFPB regulations for payday lenders would, among other things, require them to verify the income, financial obligations and financial history of potential borrowers before offering a loan. That's not an unreasonable cost for a mortgage, but it's an excessive and unjustifiable burden for a small-dollar loan.
Oct 22, 2015

Combating bad ideas would be much easier if they were all backed by ill intent. More often than not, however, the opposite is true, and the worst government policies are enacted with the intention to help. Such is apparently the case with the aggressive campaign by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to eliminate the payday lending industry.
By Thomas W. Miller, Jr., Thomas A. Durkin |
Oct 13, 2015

Although life insurance agents and lenders provide socially important products, few people get lively when thinking about them. Fewer still get excited about lenders who also sell life insurance on loans. While few people have even heard of an important insurance product known as credit insurance, many borrowers rely on this product for peace of mind. What is credit insurance? Borrowers sometimes worry that they will not be able to pay back their loan due to unforeseen events. The market, of course, provides a way to calm these anxious borrowers by allowing them to add a product to their loan: credit insurance.
Sep 22, 2015

Among the general public, Milton Friedman is mostly remembered for the libertarian views outlined on his PBS show Free to Choose. Among economists, he is best known for his monetarist position on Fed policy. What's less well known is that he was also a soothsayer, accurately predicting the euro crisis that now has the global economy in upheaval. The Nobel laureate believed the boom-and-bust business cycle was mostly caused by central banking errors that allowed a country's money supply to fluctuate.
Aug 07, 2015

Section 953 of Dodd Frank requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to write a rule requiring public companies to report the ratio of the CEO's total compensation to median employee's total compensation. The SEC recently issued a final rule on a 3-2 vote. That's too bad, because pay ratios didn't cause the recent crisis and don't address the inequality that matters.


RegData, an online interactive tool, allows us to quantify the regulatory surge of Dodd-Frank in context. By analyzing the text of regulations and counting the words and phrases that signify a mandatory or prohibited activity—such as shall, must, may not, prohibited, and required—RegData gives a more meaningful measure of regulation than simply counting the number of new rules created or the number of pages added to the Federal Register.


Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. With colleague Alex Tabarrok, Cowen is coauthor of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution and cofounder of the online educational platform Marginal Revolution University.
Garett Jones is a senior scholar and BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center and an associate professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in macroeconomics, monetary economics, and the microfoundations of economic growth.
Arnold Kling is a Mercatus Center–affiliated senior scholar at George Mason University and a member of the Financial Markets Working Group. He specializes in housing-finance policy, financial institutions, macroeconomics, and the inside workings of America’s federal financial institutions. He also is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.
Stephen Matteo Miller is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center. He is interested in the origins, effects and resolution of market crashes and financial crises.
Hester Peirce is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of the Financial Markets Working Group. Her primary research interests relate to the regulation of the financial markets.


J. W. Verret | October 14, 2015
J.W. Verret analyzes Hillary Clinton’s plan to reform Wall Street on American Radio Journal.

Recent Events

Hedge-fund manager Cliff Asness, one of the most influential—and outspoken—financial thinkers, will join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging intellectual dialogue as part of the Conversations with Tyler series.


Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Jan 23, 2014
Como la primera moneda digital descentralizada del mundo, Bitcoin tiene el potencial de revolucionar los sistemas de pago en línea de una manera que beneficia a los consumidores y las empresas. En lugar de utilizar un intermediario, como PayPal, o entregar información de tarjeta de crédito a un tercer partido para su verificación—ya que los dos incluyen cargos de transacción y otras restricciones— Bitcoin permite que los individuos paguen directamente entre sí para bienes o servicios.

Media Clippings

Hester Peirce | Nov 13, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Bloomberg.
Stephen Matteo Miller | Nov 03, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.
Todd Zywicki | Oct 20, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.
Jason J. Fichtner | Jul 24, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in FOX Business.
Jason J. Fichtner | Jul 17, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in FOX Business.
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