Lisa J. Servon

Lisa J. Servon is professor of urban policy and management at the New School. Her forthcoming book, The Unbanking of America, will be published in 2017.

Recent Articles

Will Trump Kill the CFPB?

Created in response to the financial crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to consumers—which may be exactly why it’s now under threat.

Aude Guerrucci/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
This article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . trickle-downers_35.jpg It began by comparing a mortgage and a toaster. That’s how then–Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren made the case for a government consumer financial protection agency akin to the Consumer Product Safety Commission created under President Nixon in 1972. Warren’s 2007 article “Unsafe at Any Rate,” a reference to Ralph Nader’s 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed , planted the seed for what would later become the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency charged with making “consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole.” Her persuasive argument made the need for such an agency crystal clear to ordinary consumers: It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. But it is possible to...

The Big Financial Divide

Why we have one banking system for the well-off and a “Wild West” fringe for everyone else.

AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley
AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley A sign for a Wisconsin Auto Title Loans store is shown in Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. This book review appears in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy By Mehrsa Baradaran 336 pp. Harvard University Press $29.95 The hit Broadway musical Hamilton features a riveting rap throwdown between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton called Cabinet Battle #1. The issue on the table? Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton’s proposal to assume the states’ Revolutionary War debt and establish a national bank. JEFFERSON: But Hamilton forgets His plan would have the government assume state’s debts Now, place your bets as to who that benefits: The very seat of government where Hamilton sits HAMILTON: Thomas. That was a real nice declaration Welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation Would you like to join us, or...