Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AALS Section on Financial Institutions and Consumer Financial Services

The section program at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in San Francisco on January 7 this year focused on the "post-crisis" landscape. The Call for Papers panel featured papers by William Birdthistle, Jim Hawkins, Adam Levitin, Alan White and Sarah Woo.

One of my favorites on this panel was James Hawkins' (University of Houston) paper on Regulating the Fringe: Reexamining the Link Between Fringe Banking and Financial Distress forthcoming in the Indiana Law Review. Basically Jim argues that products like payday loans, pawn loans, and rent-to-own leases— might not cause as much financial distress to consumers because of the finality involved in these transactions and the amount. As such, perhaps we might reconsider whether regulators should lump these types of transactions with others. At the heart of this is what constitutes financial distress. While I am not a fan of the fringe banking products, Jim's argument that they might require differing treatment in terms of regulation is worth serious consideration. For my part, I part with him in some of the ideas regarding monetary valuation. I remain unconvinced that one person's financial distress is the same as another's due to relative economic means as a whole. For instance, a person of very limited means may experience serious financial distress when their $750 auto is repossessed and they cannot get to work, then loose their employment, etc. While the event of losing the car may have a finality in and of itself that does not continue to plague the consumer, even smaller dollar transactions can have great impact on the lives of many consumers. That aside, the finality of the transaction is worth further thought when considering regulation of fringe banking products, as is the differing impact of the size of these transactions.


1 comment:

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