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Full Disclosure: Building the U.S. Political Economy of Credit

Full Disclosure: Building the U.S. Political Economy of Credit

Chapter:
(p.34) 2 Full Disclosure: Building the U.S. Political Economy of Credit
Source:
Democracy Declined
Author(s):
Mallory E. SoRelle
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226711829.003.0002

Chapter two, Full Disclosure: Building and Sustaining the U.S. Political Economy of Credit, explores why federal policymakers haven’t enacted consumer financial protections that effectively curb predatory lending in the United States. It draws from an original dataset of all major federal consumer financial protections to investigate the legislative history of the U.S. consumer credit regulatory regime, beginning at the turn of the 20th century. The chapter argues that New Deal policymakers deliberately embraced credit to fuel a consumption economy, setting in motion a U.S. political economy of credit. This system, which prioritized expansive access to credit over consumer protection, created a path-dependent process that led policymakers to adopt disclosure requirements as the primary strategy for protecting borrowers’ finances, despite questions about the efficacy of disclosures and their inability to curb risky lending.

Keywords:   credit, consumer protection, predatory lending, New Deal, political economy, regulation, consumption, path dependence, legislative history

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