Working Paper No. 14-05:
Behavior, Paternalism, and Policy: Evaluating Consumer Financial Protection

Author(s):

Adam C. Smith, Todd Zywicki

Date Posted: March 2014

Availability:
Abstract (below) | Full text (most recent) on SSRN

Abstract:

This paper examines the relationship between behavioral law and economics (BLE) as a policy prescription platform and its influence on the regulations emerging from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). We show how these regulations are inconsistent with the intent and purpose of improving consumer choices. We further demonstrate that the selective modeling of behavioral bias in the BLE framework causes an overestimation of the ability of regulators, who in actuality use inefficient, heavy-handed rules based on little if any real empirical findings of “consumer irrationality.” Accordingly, the broader lesson on the misapplication of behavioral economics goes beyond the ill-considered policies emerging from the CFPB.