by Jeff Sovern
I frequently post links to scholars' articles on consumer law issues, including pieces by George Mason's Todd J. Zywicki, like this one. The Nation recently published a piece reporting on professors who also work for Wall Street-funded operations without disclosing that in, as The Nation put it, their "university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony." Zywicki was the first academic discussed in the article. My own view is that scholars who receive money from the financial industry and write on matters that deal with that industry should disclose that, but I'm not aware of any ethical rules requiring such disclosure, though there should be. I should also note that I don't know Zywicki and certainly have no reason to think his views are affected by the money he receives from financial firms. Still, if you read the articles I link to, bear in mind that other authors may also have an undisclosed interest. And in the interest of disclosure, I should report that two of my relatives work for banks and a third works for an internet company.
The Nation article is very much worth reading. Academics may find the following quote of particular interest: "Jim Overdahl, an economic consultant formerly with National Economic Research Associates, told The Nation that professors can fetch $5,000 per letter submitted to a regulator." Alas, not all of us get paid for our communications with regulators.