The National Economic Council, which advises the president on U.S. and global and economic policy, asked Barth for feedback on a variety of issues: the Dodd-Frank Act; interaction between financial institutions and technology and how that impacts banking; and potential Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations that would slash the availability of regulated payday loans by 70 percent.
“Since I have been doing research on these issues, I plan to provide them with input that I hope they find useful,” said Barth, who noted that the NEC was also seeking opinions from a variety of other financial experts on these issues. “It’s good that we have people at Auburn University whose opinions are valued and solicited by outside parties, whether it is governmental agencies or private firms. You’re not being asked to dictate policy, but instead providing input into the policy-making process.”
Barth, a Senior Fellow at the Milken Institute, is no stranger to Washington. He was appointed by past presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to serve as Chief Economist of the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. He has also testified before numerous congressional committees and co-authored several books, including 2013’s “Guardians of Finance: Making Regulators Work for Us,” published by MIT Press.
In the past year, Barth co-authored payday lending research with Harbert College colleagues John Jahera and Jitka Hillard. Last October, “Banks and Payday Lenders: Friends or Foes?” examined payday lending regulations nationwide and explored the possibility of imposing fewer regulations on banks so banks can provide similar services as lower interest rates. Most recently, the team and Ph. D. student Yanfei Sun released “How do Differences in State Regulations Affect the Payday Lending Industry?” and found that property crimes were decreased in counties with more payday lending stores.