Financial Justice
The People's Campaign to Stop Lender Abuse
by Larry Kirsch and Robert N. Mayer
May 2013, 236pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2951-2
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2952-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.
This provocative and accessible narrative recounts the inside story of how a broad-based people's campaign was mobilized and subsequently succeeded in pushing Congress to create a consumer financial regulator with clout.

What would Congress do—if anything—to tame Wall Street and the nation’s lenders following the financial meltdown of 2008? This book tells the true story of how an alliance of consumer, civil rights, labor, fair lending, and other progressive groups emerged to effectively challenge Wall Street and its official protectors and to win substantial new legislative reforms—actions that resulted in the Dodd-Frank Act and its path-breaking Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Based largely on in-depth interviews with the leading activists involved in the campaign, Financial Justice: The People’s Campaign to Stop Lender Abuse taps into the world of contemporary citizen movements to present evidence into the conditions that determine the success and failure of social movement campaigns. It goes well beyond general, global variables, such as “effective management,” to show how the formal and informal rules adopted by a campaign can serve to preclude fragmentation and incoherence.

Larry Kirsch is an economist and managing partner of IMR Health Economics, a consulting firm in Portland, OR. His consulting practice focuses on health insurance financing and market practices as well as consumer protection. He has published extensively in the areas of consumerism and health care, including the articles "Do Product Disclosures Inform and Safeguard Insurance Policyholders?" and "The State Attorney General as Consumer Advocate: A Recent Effort to Tame Unfair Subprime Lending Practices."

Robert N. Mayer, PhD, is professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. His published works include ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedia of the Consumer Movement and The Consumer Movement: Guardians of the Marketplace. He currently serves, or has served on, the editorial boards of multiple journals and is a member of the board of directors for numerous organizations, including the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers WebWatch Program of Consumers Union, the National Consumers League, and DebtorWise Foundation. Mayer holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Reviews

"Financial Justice portrays a lively, in-depth narrative of the people waging the battle for consumer finance protection and their victories, setbacks, and compromises. It brings to life the legislative history of the Act that created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) by illustrating the work of activists, policy advocates, and policymakers involved in the creation of the CFPB. . . . With all its attention to detail, this book is a valuable asset to anyone researching the history of the Dodd-Frank Act and the CFPB."—American Association of Law Libraries, July 10, 2014

"The book, based on solid research and interviews with Elizabeth Warren and campaign advocates, has fascinating chapters dealing with the legislative struggles showing how the activists held wavering members of Congress accountable for key votes, while addressing the larger issue of how social movements can contribute to progressive political change."—The Huffington Post, April 22, 2014

"A very readable account of the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau . . . authors do an excellent job of describing the congressional maneuvering on both sides in both houses, as well as the work of the activists and business interests in shaping the final outcome. Very informative . . . highly recommended."—Choice, November 15, 2013

"While the future of the CFPB is uncertain, Kirsch and Mayer's book provides a good guide to how the agency came to be despite the odds stacked against it."—Deseret News, June 21, 2013

"The authors should be commended for their recognition of the need for an empirical study here and for the skill and thoroughness they employed in getting the job done during an especially contentious time for the US Congress."—Journal of American Culture, December 1, 2014

"Powerful interest groups seldom lose major battles in Congress, but that is exactly what happened when Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010. Larry Kirsch and Robert N. Mayer have produced, in Financial Justice: The People’s Campaign to Stop Lender Abuse, an eminently readable and yet important account of the fight to establish the CFPB. For those who care about consumer protection, want to learn how laws get passed and new agencies created, or just enjoy a good real-life David-and-Goliath struggle, this book is a must-read."—Jeff Sovern, Professor of Law at St. John’s University and Co-coordinator, Consumer Law and Policy Blog

"Can a grassroots movement beat Wall Street and tame the power of America’s financial elites? Robert Mayer and Larry Kirsch say 'yes' and tell the story of many unsung heroes in the battle for bank reform. There are lots of books about the causes and consequences of the Wall Street crash of 2008, but until now no book has focused on the efforts of progressive groups to bring about financial reform. Before she became a U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Warren observed that American consumers had more protections against the rare risk of an exploding toaster than against the much more common hazard of a killer mortgage. To change those odds, a diverse coalition of unions, community organizations, consumer groups, academics, and others built a movement to educate the public about Wall Street abuses and push Congress and the White House to enact regulations to reform this corporate behemoth. Over the fierce opposition of the banking industry, they helped pass the Dodd-Frank bill—including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a first step in an ongoing effort to hold Wall Street accountable. Drawing on in-depth interviews with progressive activists, this book takes the reader inside the campaign and provides a highly readable rendering of an inside-outside advocacy campaign. The authors include fascinating character portraits of the key players—activists, public officials, and industry heavyweights—that will interest anyone who cares about American democracy. The book will enliven class discussions of social movements, public policy, and consumer protection."—Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics; Chair, Urban & Environmental Policy Department, Occidental College

"Larry Kirsch and Rob Mayer have provided an extraordinary accounting of an issue campaign spearheaded by the policy vision of Elizabeth Warren, the organizing skills of Heather Booth, and the legislative talents of Barney Frank—and powered by the people. Financial Justice is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn how victory was achieved and use those lessons to continue the fight for economic justice."—Rep. Jan Schawkowsky, U.S. House of Representatives

“In the years leading up to the financial crisis, seven different federal agencies had the authority to protect consumers but failed to use that power to stop the unfair and unsustainable mortgage loans that fueled the crisis and devastated communities. Financial Justice tells the powerful inside story of how civil rights, consumer, labor, and other public interest organizations worked together to play a crucial role in creating the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the authority and the mission to stand up for families and protect our financial security. After years of reckless financial industry deregulation and rampant abuse, the fight for the CFPB resulted in a major civil and human rights triumph and a compelling chapter in the evolution of our democracy.”—Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
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