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Colston E. Warne Lecture: Is It Time for Another Round of Consumer Protection? The Lessons of Twentieth-Century U.S. History


  • This commentary is developed from the Colston E. Warne Lecture that was presented at the 2009 annual conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests.


The first year of Barack Obama's presidency has returned consumer issues to center stage, with several contentious struggles over consumer protection. This moment can be viewed as a fourth wave of the twentieth-century consumer movement, and a comparison with the first three waves (during the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the 1960s–1970s) offers instructive insights. In particular, the contemporary battle over the Consumer Financial Protection Agency bears striking similarities to the failed campaign for a Consumer Protection Agency in the 1970s.