Rules We Can Really Live By

By Karen Petrou

  • Judging U.S. rulemaking by its benefits to the public good, not just by its impact on private wealth, is transformational and, with a new CBA methodology, also more than possible.
  • Equitable rules can be both effective and efficient.
  • Maximizing the public good is not synonymous with redistribution or reverse discrimination.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order (EO) 12866, creating hurdles ahead of federal rules that are “economically significant.”  This was measured by a cost of $100 million or more.  On January 20, President Biden began a long-overdue rewrite, stipulating that federal rules are henceforth to be judged not just by their impact on private wealth, but also by what becomes of the public good.

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Pick Your Poison: Abandoning Regulated Banking in Search of Financial Inclusion

By Karen Petrou

  • Transaction and savings accounts are critical to financial security and inter-generational economic equality.
  • Nonbank offerings might increase financial inclusion, but pose risks to safeguarding savings, personal privacy, and consumer protection unless or until consumer-finance standards symmetrically apply to banks and nonbanks offering like-kind products to vulnerable households.
  • Public-utility, postal, or CBDC alternatives to bank accounts are a long way off and may not effectively safeguard high-risk households. 
  • Expanding low-cost, no-risk bank accounts is a critical near-term policy option.
Continue reading “Pick Your Poison: Abandoning Regulated Banking in Search of Financial Inclusion”

Hard Questions on Data Privacy

By Karen Petrou

On February 13, bipartisan Senate Banking leadership asked for views on how best to craft a new consumer-data privacy and security framework.  Reflecting 2017’s Equifax debacle, the inquiry seems rooted in the credit-reporting framework.  Essential though it is, data-integrity fixes for the credit bureaus aren’t anywhere near sufficient protection now that consumer financial data are increasingly clutched in the hands of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and an array of lightly- or un-regulated technology-based consumer-finance providers.  As we have demonstrated, sustainable, sound, and fair consumer credit is critical to economic equality.  Continue reading “Hard Questions on Data Privacy”

Making “Responsible Innovation” a Reality: Big Tech, Small Money, and U.S. Economic Equality

By Federal Financial Analytics

FedFin has just released a new policy paper laying out how emerging risks in unregulated tech-based financial products may threaten U.S. economic inequality.  It’s not that regulated institutions have always done that much better, but rather that the power of big data, predictive modeling, and far-flung commercial interests combines with tech-firm culture in still more dangerous ways far outside the reach of effective controls or meaningful enforcement.  Continue reading “Making “Responsible Innovation” a Reality: Big Tech, Small Money, and U.S. Economic Equality”

Robinhood and the Sheriff of Nottingham: The Fintech Financial-Inclusion Illusion

By Karen Petrou

On December 14, a fintech venture dubbing itself Robinhood launched a consumer-banking product touting a no-fee, high-return, and yet somehow still profitable checking, savings, brokerage, and payment product.  It didn’t take long to see that Robinhood would steal from the poor to feed the rich.  Speculative investors have somehow bid the company up to a $5.6 billion valuation despite, as even a cursory analysis of public documentation shows, a flawed business model premised on a series of increasingly improbable assumptions about the transformative powers of financial technology and the malleability of U.S. financial regulation.  Continue reading “Robinhood and the Sheriff of Nottingham: The Fintech Financial-Inclusion Illusion”