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Lt. Gov. Reeves highlights MSU Consumer Credit Symposium

12-9-16 - Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An all-day event at The Mill at MSU Conference Center Friday [Dec. 9] brought together leading public policy and economic minds for analysis of the past, present and future of consumer credit.

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves gave the lunch session keynote for the “Consumer Credit Symposium: A Century of Experience with the Uniform Small Loan Law.” In his address, Reeves discussed federal and state regulations regarding consumer credit.

“I’m not sure how many industries need to be regulated in our state,” Reeves said. “But if we’re going to have regulations, either from the state government or the federal government, we need regulations that are manageable and regulations that make sense for not only the consumer, but also those investing the capital that create these businesses.”

The symposium was hosted by the MSU College of Business’ Department of Finance and Economics, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, MSU’s Institute for Market Studies and the Jack R. Lee Chair in Financial Institutions and Consumer Finance.

Thomas Miller, MSU Professor of Finance and Jack R. Lee Chair, said he was excited to have so many experts in Starkville to commemorate and analyze the impact of the Uniform Small Loan Law, which was passed in 1916 to protect consumers from illegal lenders.

“The participation was good, the topics have been good and the speakers have been terrific,” Miller said. “We thought we had a world-class program put together and it turned out to be so.”

Panelists for the event included former Federal Reserve Board Senior Economist Thomas Durkin, Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance Commissioner Charlotte Corley and Todd Zywicki, executive director of the Antonin Scalia Law School’s Law and Economics Center at George Mason University. Augustana College History Professor Lendol Calder keynotes the symposium's dinner session.

During the panel examining the past history of consumer credit, Durkin gave an in-depth history of the Uniform Small Loan Law, an area he has studied for 49 years. The law was primarily designed as model legislation to protect consumers from illegal loans while also providing a mechanism for legal means of obtaining consumer credit.

“The Uniform Small Loan Law was the first domestic law to satisfy the demand for small consumer loans legally,” Durkin said.

By the 1960s, most states had adopted a version of the law, which has been updated over time. During her panel, Corley gave her perspective on consumer credit as someone charged with monitoring the industry. She noted that federal and state regulators need to understand the markets Mississippi consumer credit companies operate in, particularly in rural areas of Mississippi that have a high population of residents that do not use banks.

Panelists also discussed the challenges posed by legal and illegal online consumer credit lenders.

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