Monday, November 18, 2013

The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street | The Nation

I am not one who thinks that law professors should be in the ivory tower - refusing, like a Brahmin or Barrister - to handle money.  I work as an expert witness, and have worked as a brief writer.  I do not think, either, that one is corrupt because one is `shilling' for Wall Street, rather than patients who were injured by their medicine. But I do wonder about the disclosure point.  
When I read medical journals there are always disclosures about the grants the writer received, and consulting fees for drug companies. But legal academics disclose nothing.  Shouldn't we?  I disclosed in my year 2000 Yale Law Journal  article that I had represented the Hemophilia Society of New Jersey in litigation which was a major subject of the article.  But in 2007 in a piece in The Review of Litigation I did not disclose that I was a paid consultant for plaintiffs in Vioxx litigation which was a central subject of my essay.  Not that I was shy about it, just that I didn't think to mention it, and no one asked!  And that's the point - shouldn't I have been asked?  - gwc 
p.s. - for one version of the non-corruption principle, see Lawrence Lessig's disclosure - which I find rather Olympian. 
  The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street | The Nation: by Lee Fang
Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.”

About the Author

Lee Fang
Lee Fang
Lee Fang is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He covers money in politics,...
Zywicki’s withering arguments against financial reform have earned him guest columns in The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Times and on The New York Times’s website. Lobbyists representing the largest consumer finance companies in the country have cited his writings in letters to regulators, and the number of times he has testified before Congress is prominently displayed on his academic website at the George Mason University School of Law.
What isn’t contained in Zywicki’s university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony is the law professor’s other job: he is a director of the Global Economics Group, a consulting business that boasts in a brochure that its experts have been hired by industry to influence the CFPB and other regulatory agencies. Nor does Zywicki advertise Global’s client list, which includes some of the biggest names in the financial industry, among them Visa, Bank of America and Citigroup. 
Last summer, Zywicki’s firm was retained for $500 an hour on behalf of Morgan Drexen, a debt-relief company accused by the CFPB of deceiving consumers and charging illegal upfront fees. None of these potential conflicts of interest, however, have been disclosed during the course of Zywicki’s anti-CFPB advocacy in the media or in government.  
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