Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

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Law & Economics Working Papers


This Article proposes an alternative to direct government regulation of mortgage brokers: self-regulation of the mortgage industry that mimics the arguably successful self-regulation of the securities industry that has occurred over the past two centuries. Although not without its problems, self-regulation of securities brokers operates more efficiently than government regulation. For example, self-regulation allows for industry expertise to be deployed at low cost and is built on trust and reciprocity, which reduce enforcement costs. In addition, self-regulation locates power at its smallest point and encourages efficient resolution of disputes by ensuring commensurable regulatory intervention. Most crucially for the mortgage industry, self-regulation is capable of policing behavior that does not rise to the level of fraud but is nevertheless socially undesirable. This Article explores the reasons why self-regulation can be effective, as well as some of its limitations in the context of securities brokers. It then looks at its potential application to mortgage brokers, comparing the self-regulatory approach with the governmental approach taken by the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However effective the federal approach to mortgage industry regulation is likely to be, there are aspects of such regulation that would be better administered by the industry itself, subject, of course, to oversight by the government to protect against the cartelization threat.



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