Vision Series: Regulating Consumer Credit

Posted: April 2, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: April 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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By Frances Womble

Todd Zywicki, professor of law

Todd Zywicki, professor of law

What’s the real story of American consumer debt? Have Americans generally lived within their means or used credit with abandon? And what factors have influenced Americans’ use of credit?  In the next lecture in the Vision Series, Todd Zywicki, professor in the School of Law, will shed some light on this fascinating history and the role that regulation plays in it.

Zywicki will give his lecture, “The Not-So-Good-Old-Days of Consumer Credit: How to Think About Consumer Credit and Its Regulation,” on Monday, April 8, at 7:15 p.m. in the Founders Hall auditorium on the Arlington Campus.

Zywicki will describe how criticisms that underlay the financial crisis appeared with the rise of consumer credit and deregulation that empowered competition and consumer choice after World War II.  Regulatory reforms proposed to fix problems are a rerun of a cycle of regulation and deregulation in American history, Zywicki says.  The result is a repeat of past errors with unfortunate, unintended consequences for consumers, like pushing consumers out of the mainstream banking systems and forcing reliance on alternative lenders.

A reception with light refreshments will follow the lecture.

In addition to teaching at Mason, Zywicki is co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review.  He has also served as the director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, clerked for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, practiced law in Atlanta and testified before Congress  more than a dozen times on issues of bankruptcy law and consumer credit.

He is the author of more than 70 articles in leading law reviews and peer-reviewed economics journals and has taught at Vanderbilt University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Boston College Law School and Mississippi College School of Law.  Additionally, he has consulted with government officials from Iceland, Italy, Japan and Guatemala.

Write to Robin Herron at

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