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Michael Barr addresses faltering financial protection for consumers

March 22, 2019

Only 10 years out of the Great Recession in which hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their jobs, homes, and savings, the Trump Administration’s deregulatory stance sounds alarms for many in the finance sector. Among the concerned is Michael Barr, Director of the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy, and one of the chief architects of the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation.

As an ardent advocate for bold consumer financial protection, Barr organized a conference at the Ford School to address the dangers of the current position of the Trump Administration, criticize the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and discuss potential solutions. The conference, aptly titled Consumer Protection in an Age of Uncertainty, examined “the status of consumer financial protection as it affects American borrowers, small business owners, and those planning for retirement.”

For Barr, the current position of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) puts many Americans at risk of further financial instability. Covering the first day of the conference for Forbes, Ted Knutson cited Barr’s worries in his March 21 column. “Many families have not recovered from the recession” Barr stated, “families need to save more income and borrow more responsibly but the current financial system makes it hard.”

One of the keynote speakers for the conference, Richard Corday echoed Barr’s concerns. As the founding director of the CFPB for the Obama Administration, Corday offered a stern rebuke of the federal government’s deregulatory efforts. According to Corday, however, the states now have an opportunity to implement their own regulations. “More consumer protection from the states is a good thing,” Corday said at the conference. A reaction that favors federalism, Corday suggests, supports Dodd-Frank regulations as the legislation “didn’t want to put all consumer financial protection in the federal basket.”

Featured as the other keynote speaker is the current Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission Rohit Chopra. Among the speakers were prominent researchers from universities nationwide, including U-M faculty from the Law and Public Policy Schools; other contributors include policymakers, lobbyists and proponents for strengthening both state and federal consumer protections.

To read Ted Knutson’s Forbes article click here. To see a full list of topics and speakers click here.

Michael Barr is the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy at the Ford School, the Frank Murphy Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, the Roy F. and Jean Humphrey Proffitt Professor of Law, and also the faculty director of the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy as well as a senior fellow at the center at the Center for American Progress. A former Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Treasury Department, Barr was a key contributor in crafting the Dodd-Frank Act.