Financial Regulation

Financial Regulation

Research

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…
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 | 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.
Todd Zywicki, Robert L. Clarke | Apr 01, 2014
In response to the financial crisis that began in 2008, in 2010 President Obama signed into law the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly referred to as the “Dodd-Frank Act." A “centerpiece of the [new law] was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”),” which was established in response to the perception of widespread failures in the federal consumer protection regime with respect to financial products and the belief that these regulatory failures contributed to the financial crisis.
Hester Peirce, Jerry Ellig | Mar 31, 2014
SEC Regulatory Analysis: “A Long Way to Go and a Short Time to Get There”…

Testimony & Comments

Brian Knight | May 12, 2016
The recent rise of “FinTech”—the use of technology to provide financial services in innovative ways—has the potential to significantly change how consumers access financial services. These changes are pressuring existing regulatory structures and norms, and they are creating concern that regulators will hamper needed modernization or fail to prevent a harmful destabilization of the financial system. I commend the OCC for acknowledging that its existing model for regulation could be improved to better match the needs of the current market and for providing an initial framework for how it plans to address innovation within its jurisdiction.
Holly A. Bell | Mar 16, 2016
Ill-considered regulation regarding algorithmic trading will adversely affect the ability of legitimate market participants to contribute to liquidity, price discovery, narrow spreads, and low trading costs. The CFTC shares with market participants a growing interest in algorithmic trading and its potential effects on the markets. Rather than working with market participants cooperatively, the Commission proposes a prescriptive regime applicable to virtually any firm that trades in the futures (and swaps) markets. If finalized, this proposal will establish an approach dominated by enforcement that will chill firms’ willingness to work with the Commission to address emerging problems in the area. In addition, by opening firms’ source code to unlimited inspection by the Commission and others, the proposal creates dangerous vulnerabilities for an asset of utmost importance to trading firms.
Hester Peirce | Mar 15, 2016
Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Brown, and Members of the Committee, I am honored to appear before you today as one of the President’s nominees to serve as a member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It is a particular privilege to be considered for the SEC together with Professor Lisa Fairfax.
Thomas W. Miller, Jr. | Feb 11, 2016
Conversations about consumer credit often reflect utopian visions of the world. Many people imagine that a few tweaks to regulations can ensure that everyone has the money needed to feed, clothe, and shelter the family. According to this logic, if households need to borrow money, lenders will treat them fairly, charge little, and always be repaid. But no matter how hard we all try, a well-crafted regulatory framework cannot bring us this utopia. Deliberate, empirically informed regulators, however, can do much to preserve and expand consumers’ options along the nonbank-supplied small-dollar loan landscape.
Stephen Matteo Miller | Jan 29, 2016
While higher capital requirements can reduce the likelihood of banking crises, I would like to raise two key issues concerning the proposed policy statement: 1) bank subsidiary capital requirements may be more effective than holding company capital requirements, and 2) the benefit-cost analysis used to analyze the rule could be improved by adding other dimensions to the analysis.
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.

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

May 12, 2016

The question of whether the current regulatory environment is adequate or unnecessarily impeding positive innovation is gaining importance as technology continues to allow nontraditional companies to provide financial services in new ways.
May 02, 2016

Using RICO to take down lenders will stifle market innovation and competition.
May 02, 2016

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has had a hard time in court recently. Its efforts to demand information and documents from a for-profit college accreditor were recently rejected by a federal judge in D.C. on the grounds that the agency lacks the statutory authority to stray this far from consumer finance.
Apr 08, 2016

Fintech is rapidly expanding access to financial services products as new technology-based firms are able to achieve instant national scale. But a factor potentially stifling innovation is the uncertainty of fintech's regulatory environment.
Apr 06, 2016

For insurance companies during the crisis, system-wide risks came from complex regulatory capital requirements that gave incentives to hold assets that went bust. This flaw could be addressed at the state, rather than federal level, with simpler, higher capital requirements.
Mar 21, 2016

Higher capital requirements might have prevented the Latin American debt crisis. Simpler capital requirements without risk weights might have prevented the recent crisis. In the future, if we’re going to regulate capital, let’s have simpler, higher capital requirements and put an end to this cycle.

Charts

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.

Experts

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.
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 is a senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Lawrence H. White is a professor of economics at George Mason University. His primary research interests include monetary theory and policy, history of banking and financial institutions, and central banking.

Podcasts

Richard Williams | July 21, 2015
It’s been five years since the Dodd-Frank Act became law, with the goal of preventing the chaos of the 2008 economic crisis from happening again. But the question whether it’s worked is just as polarizing as the law itself was back then. The law affects Wall Street, banks, whistleblowers, consumer protection, and other sectors of the financial industry.

Recent Events

Please join the Mercatus Center’s Program on Monetary Policy Director Scott Sumner, and Visiting Scholar David Beckworth, for an in-depth discussion on the Federal Reserve. Just a week after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony, Mercatus scholars will analyze current Federal Reserve policy (like the December rate hike), and lead an informative discussion on the future of monetary policy.

Books

Media Clippings

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.
Hester Peirce | Feb 12, 2014
Hester Peirce quoted at Reuters.
Patrick McLaughlin | Jul 22, 2013
The researchers examined data from the Code of Federal Regulations and determined that over 7,000 new financial rules were implemented between 1999 and 2008, bringing the total number of regulations to 47,494 just before the crash.
Veronique de Rugy | Jun 20, 2013
Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said the public tends to overlook the fact that the SBA is largely irrelevant in the overall small business lending market.
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