FTC to Host Conference on Consumer Information and the Mortgage Market

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The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics will host a conference on May 29 to highlight and assess the role of consumer information in the current mortgage crisis from an economic perspective.

Experts on real estate economics, information economics, consumer behavior, and consumer information policy will examine how consumer information and information regulation affect consumer choices, mortgage outcomes, and consumer welfare. For example, panelists will discuss the causes and effects of mortgage market product developments, the role of consumer information in mortgage choice and market outcomes, and the relationship between consumer information policy and the current mortgage crisis. They will also discuss strategies for ensuring that new consumer protection regulations, especially mandatory information disclosures, will provide the greatest possible long-run net benefit to consumers. This exchange may yield concrete ideas for the development and implementation of more cohesive, comprehensive, and effective consumer information policies.

Housing and mortgage market turmoil affects Americans’ financial security and raises questions about the adequacy of consumer protection regulations in mortgage and housing markets. Concerns about increases in delinquencies and foreclosures have led to numerous new consumer protection regulation proposals, including new mandatory disclosures and prohibitions on mortgage product characteristics. Policy choices made today will affect consumer protections, mortgage options, and home ownership opportunities for years to come. Effective consumer policy solutions require both an understanding of why current consumer protection policies may have failed and an assessment of the likely long-term effects of alternative policies on consumer choice and market outcomes.

Mandatory information disclosures play a central role in the existing consumer protection
regulatory framework for the mortgage market. An economic analysis of consumer information that includes a historical understanding of mortgage product developments, as well as empirical research on consumer use and understanding of mandatory disclosures, will bring together disparate elements of the current mortgage policy debate.

The conference will be held at the agency’s headquarter’s building, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. Members of the public and press who cannot attend may view a live Webcast of the conference on the FTC’s Web site. All attendees must show a valid form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license. Pre-registration is not necessary but is encouraged. To pre-register, please e-mail your name and affiliation to mortgageconference@ftc.gov. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for such accommodations should be submitted via e-mail to mbaskin@ftc.gov or by calling Marcy Baskin at 202-326-2285. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and a way to contact you if we need more information. Please provide advance notice. For more information on the workshop, please visit http://www.ftc.gov/be/workshops/mortgage/index.shtml.

Contact Information

Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs
Janis K. Pappalardo
Bureau of Economics