Product Safety Regulation as a Model for Financial Services Regulation

Authors


  • An earlier version of this article appeared in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Summer 2007.

Abstract

Because of product safety regulations, exploding toasters and other dangerous products are rare in the American marketplace. Despite the fact that financial products can also be dangerous, with terms as incomprehensible as an electrical wiring diagram, regulation is far less comprehensive. Most financial regulation turns on the identity of the issuer—federal bank, state thrift, and private issuer—rather than on the product itself. Instead of using safety experts, financial products are regulated mainly by agencies whose principal responsibility is to protect the profitability of the financial institutions that issue the products. A Financial Product Safety Commission would provide coherent regulation of financial products, eliminating their most dangerous features.

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