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The New Directions in Regulation seminar series, organized and hosted by the Regulatory Policy Program, represents the preeminent forum in the country for engaging scholars and practitioners in an exploration of emerging trends in regulation. Since 1998, we have held more than 150 seminars, led by leading scholars from Harvard and around the world. The typical seminar brings together a diverse audience of thirty to forty participants from academia, business, and government. Many papers presented in the seminar are available in our working paper series.

Spring 2013

Thursday, February 14, 11:45am-1:00pm
Reinforcing Regulatory Regimes: How States, Civil Society, and Codes of Conduct Promote Adherence to Global Labor Standards
Michael W. Toffel, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Bell Hall, 5th Floor, Belfer Building, HKS
Paper by Michael W. Toffel, Jodi L. Short, and Melissa Ouellet
Powerpoint presentation
Video of this seminar
Summary of this seminar

Thursday, February 21, 11:45am-1:00pm
The Labor Market Impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Moratorium
Joseph Aldy, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Faculty Chair, Regulatory Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School
Bell Hall, 5th Floor, Belfer Building, HKS

Thursday, February 28, 11:45am-1:00pm
The Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India: Implications for Pollution Regulation
Maureen Cropper, Distinguished University Professor of Economics, University of Maryland
Bell Hall, 5th Floor, Belfer Building, HKS
Video of this seminar
HKS News story on this seminar

Wednesday, March 13, 1:00-2:15
The Reality of Precaution:  Comparing Risk Regulation in the United States and Europe
Jonathan Wiener, William R. and Thomas L. Perkins Professor of Law, Professor of Environmental Policy and Professor of Public Policy, Duke University Law School
Bell Hall, 5th Floor, Belfer Building, HKS
Video of this seminar

Thursday, April 4, 11:45am-1:00pm
Who Gains and Who Loses? What We Know about the Distributional Effects of Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations
Lisa Robinson, Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government
Harvard Kennedy School
Fainsod, 3rd Floor, Littauer Building, HKS

New Date and location! Tuesday, April 16, 11:45am-1:00pm
The New Era of Swaps Market Reform
Gary Gensler, Chairman, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Nye A, 5th Floor, Taubman Building, HKS

Fall 2012

Thursday, September 13
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall, 5th Floor Belfer

The SO2 Allowance Trading System: The Ironic History of a Grand Policy Experiment
Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Paper by Richard Schmalensee and Robert N. Stavins
Watch the video of this seminar
Read the Harvard Gazette story about this seminar

Thursday, September 20
11:45am-1:00pm, Fainsod, L-324

The Politics of Precaution: Regulating Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks in Europe and the United States
David Vogel, Professor, Department of Political Science and Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Watch the video of this seminar

Thursday, October 4
, Fainsod, L-324
Positive v. Normative Justifications for Cost-Benefit Analysis
James K. Hammitt, Professor of Economics & Decision Sciences, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health
Watch the video of this seminar

Thursday, October 11
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall, 5th Floor Belfer

Regulatory Breakdown:  The Crisis of Confidence in U.S. Regulation
Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science and Director of the Penn Program on Regulation, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Matthew Baum, Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, Harvard Kennedy School

Richard Zeckhauser, Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School
Watch the video of this seminar
Read the HKS News story about this seminar

Thursday, October 25
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall, 5th Floor Belfer

Beyond Rio+20: Collective Action within the Financial Sector
Matthew Arnold, Managing Director, JPMorgan Chase; Lance Pierce, Executive Director, Ceres; and Namrita Kapur, Director of Strategy for the Corporate Partnerships Program, Environmental Defense Fund
Organized jointly with the HKS Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

Thursday, November 15
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall, 5th Floor Belfer

Mandatory Regulatory Review at Independent Agencies
Nancy Nord, Commissioner, US Consumer Products Safety Commission
Watch the video of this seminar
Read the HKS News story about this seminar

Thursday, November 29
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall, 5th Floor Belfer

Deciding by Default
Cass R. Sunstein, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Read the HKS News story about this seminar


--Seminar archives--

Spring 2012
Seminars this spring will focus on financial regulation and benefit-cost analysis

Thursday, February 23
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Reviving Regulatory Reform
Christopher DeMuth, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute
The regulatory reform movement, which ran approximately from 1975 through 1985, was intellectually robust and philosophically broad-based, and it achieved significant victories in practical politics. The policy landscape looks very different today. Federal regulation has been growing dramatically (even price controls are making a comeback), and the political debates appear highly partisan. But in fact the recent growth of regulation has been bipartisan (it was at least as pronounced under George W. Bush as it has been under Barack Obama). This lecture will diagnose the causes of regulatory growth and evaluate the leading reform proposals currently being considered. It will compare today’s central policy issues with those than animated the old regulatory reform movement, and argue that the earlier era produced important insights that could usefully be applied today.
Bio: Christopher DeMuth was a lecturer at the Kennedy School and director of the Harvard Faculty Project on Regulation in 1976–1981. He was thereafter administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget (the position currently held by Cass Sunstein of the Harvard Law School) in 1981–1984. He was president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in 1986–2008 and is currently a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute. His papers on regulation and other subjects are posted at
Read the news story about this event.

Thursday, March 1
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Regulating the Shadow Banking System
Andrew Metrick, Michael H. Jordan Professor of Finance and Management, Yale School of Management
Paper: Regulating the Shadow Banking System by Gary Gorton and Andrew Metrick
The “shadow” banking system played a major role in the financial crisis, but was not a central focus of the recent Dodd-Frank Law and thus remains largely unregulated. This paper proposes principles for the regulation of shadow banking and describes a specific proposal to implement those principles.
Bio: Andrew Metrick joined the Yale School of Management in 2008 as a Professor of Finance. He previously held faculty positions in the finance department at Wharton and the economics department at Harvard. In 2009-2010, he was on leave from Yale working for the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington. Professor Metrick’s current research and teaching is focused on financial stability, including the regulation of systemic risk, the activities of complex financial institutions, and the causes and consequences of the financial crisis of 2007-9. His past work has been in financial intermediation more generally, with a focus on investment management and corporate governance.
Read the news story about this event.

Thursday, March 8
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Regulation, Unemployment, and Cost-Benefit Analysis
Eric Posner, Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, University of Chicago
Paper: Regulation, Unemployment, and Cost-Benefit Analysis by Jonathan S. Masur and Eric A. Posner
Regulatory agencies take account of the potential unemployment effects of proposed regulations in an ad hoc, theoretically incorrect way. Current practice is to conduct job-loss or feasibility analysis, under which the agency predicts the unemployment effects of a proposed regulation, and then declines to regulate (or weakens the proposed regulation) if the unemployment effects exceed an unarticulated threshold. Agencies do not reveal the threshold, do not explain why certain unemployment effects are excessive, and do not explain how they compare unemployment effects and the net benefits of the regulation. Many agencies also predict unemployment effects incorrectly. The proper approach is for agencies to incorporate unemployment effects into cost-benefit analysis by predicting the amount of unemployment that a regulation will cause and monetizing that amount. Recent economic studies suggest that monetized cost of unemployment is significant, possibly more than $100,000 per worker. If agencies used this figure, there could be significant consequences for a wide variety of regulations.
Bio: Eric Posner is Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, University of Chicago.  He writes about contract law, international law, constitutional law, and administrative law.  His books include Economic Foundations of International Law (with Alan Sykes) (Harvard, forthcoming); Contract Law and Theory (Aspen, 2011); The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic (with Adrian Vermeule) (Oxford, 2011); Climate Change Justice (with David Weisbach) (Princeton, 2010); The Perils of Global Legalism (Chicago, 2009); Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty and the Courts (with Adrian Vermeule) (Oxford, 2007); New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (with Matthew Adler) (Harvard, 2006); The Limits of International Law (with Jack Goldsmith) (Oxford, 2005); Law and Social Norms (Harvard, 2000); Chicago Lectures in Law and Economics (editor) (Foundation, 2000); Cost-Benefit Analysis: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives (editor, with Matthew Adler) (University of Chicago, 2001).  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Read the news story about this event.

Tuesday, March 20 (Please note different day of the week and location)
11:45am-1:00pm, Nye A, 5th Floor, Taubman Building
Stressed Out: Macroprudential Principles for Stress Testing
Anil Kashyap, Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics and Finance,
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Paper: Stressed Out: Macroprudential Principles for Stress Testing by David Greenlaw, Anil K. Kashyap, Kermit Schoenholtz, and Hyun Song Shin
Bio: Anil K Kashyap is the Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  His research focuses on banking, business cycles, financial regulation, and monetary policy. His research has won him numerous awards, including a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Nikkei Prize for Excellent Books in Economic Sciences, and a Senior Houblon-Norman Fellowship from the Bank of England.
Read the news story about this event.

Thursday, April 5
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall
On the Quality of Economic Analysis at Independent Financial Regulatory Agencies
Randall Lutter, Visiting Scholar, Resources for the Future
Paper: On the Economic Analysis of Regulations at Independent Regulatory Commissions by Arthur Fraas and Randall Lutter
Bio: Randall Lutter joined RFF in 2010 after more than 20 years of senior experience in the management and evaluation of programs regulating health, safety and environmental risks, having served in three different federal agencies for four presidents, including service as the chief economist and deputy commissioner for policy at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. His current research interests include the quality of economic analysis of regulations, efficient air pollution regulation in the presence of non-convexities and uncertainty, and the performance of government agencies responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Read the news story about this event.

Thursday, April 12
11:45am-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Financial Regulatory Reform: Innovation in Regulatory Design and Implementation
Diana Farrell, Director, McKinsey Center for Government
Following the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession, revamping the financial regulatory regime (within political realities) was an imperative. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA), designed by the Administration and passed in July of 2010, was one of President Obama's signature legislative successes.  In this session, we will explore the context for framing financial regulation, approaches to and discussions of critical tradeoffs in modernizing oversight of the system, new regulatory tools and challenges facing regulators in implementation.
Bio: Diana Farrell has rejoined McKinsey & Company as a Director after holding the post of  Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President on Economic Policy at the White House.  Among other leadership responsibilities across the Firm’s public and private sector practices, she will lead the newly formed McKinsey Center for Government.
Read the news story about this event. Watch the video of this seminar.

Fall 2011

October 20, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
Regulatory Capture: A New Look at an Old Problem
David A. Mo
ss, John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Abstract: In recent years, the study of regulatory capture has begun to turn a corner.  An early focus on models of regulatory decision making is increasingly being complemented by fine-grained empirical work on regulation and the role of special-interest groups in the regulatory process.  Drawing on a forthcoming volume, Preventing Capture: Special Interest Influence in Regulation and How to Limit It, the talk will highlight some of the implications of this new empirical orientation, including more accurate assessments of when capture does and does not occur and novel ideas about how capture might actually be prevented (or at least substantially limited) in practice.  Examples will be provided from several regulatory areas, with a special focus on broadcast regulation.
Read the story in HKS News about this seminar.
Read a working draft of Prof. Moss' chapter, part a book he has edited on regulatory capture.

October 28, 2011
12:00-1:00pm, Fainsod L-324
Making Markets Work Better: Student Experiences in Regulatory Policy
Pascal Galicia Duran (MPA/ID'13), Pascal Noel (PhD Student, FAS Economics Dept); Tugay Yilmaz (MPA/ID'13)
Moderated by Prof. Joseph Aldy
Read the story in HKS News about this seminar

November 3, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
The Economics of Housing Finance Reform
David S. Scharfstein, Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking, Harvard Business School
Paper: The Economics of Housing Finance Reform by David S. Scharstein and Adi Sundera
Abstract: This presentation will analyze the two leading types of proposals for reform of the housing finance system: (i) broad-based, explicit, priced government guarantees of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and (ii) privatization. Both proposals have drawbacks. Properly-priced guarantees would have little effect on mortgage interest rates relative to unguaranteed mortgage credit during normal times, and would expose taxpayers to moral-hazard risk with little benefit. Privatization reduces, but does not eliminate, the government’s exposure to mortgage credit risk. It also leaves the economy and financial system exposed to destabilizing boom and bust cycles in mortgage credit. Based on this analysis, we argue that the main goal of housing finance reform should be financial stability, not the reduction of mortgage interest rates. To this end, we propose that the private market should be the main supplier of mortgage credit, but that it should be carefully regulated. This will require new approaches to regulating mortgage securitization. Moreover, we argue that while government guarantees of MBS have little value in normal times, they can be valuable in periods of significant stress to the financial system, such as in the recent financial crisis.  Thus, we propose the creation of a government-owned corporation that would play the role of “guarantor-of-last-resort” of newly-issued (not legacy) MBS during periods of crisis.
Read the story in HKS News about this seminar

November 10, 2011
12:30-2:00pm, Bell Hall
Countdown to Rio+20: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development
John Matuszak, Division Chief for Sustainable Development and Multilateral Affairs, U.S. State Department; Jorge Laguna Celis, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations; Felix Dodds, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum
Moderated by Prof. Joseph Aldy
Sponsored by the Energy and Environment PIC
Read the story about this event.

December 8, 2011
11:45-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Promoting Safety, Protecting the Environment and Conserving Offshore Resources Through Vigorous Regulatory Oversight and Enforcement
Michael R. Bromwich, Director, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, US Department of Interior
In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama Administration launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to ensure the safe development of offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history. Director Bromwich will discuss how the administration is working to enhance the operational safety and environmental protection of oil and gas drilling and production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
Read the story about this event.

Spring 2011

February 17, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
Do Americans Consume Too Little Natural Gas? An Empirical Test of Marginal Cost Pricing
Erich Muehlegger, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Abstract: This seminar discusses the extent to which regulated prices for natural gas exceed marginal costs. Research finds strong evidence that regulators set high per-unit markups for natural gas, with residential and commercial customers facing average markups of over 40%. These markups are equivalent to a carbon tax of over $200 / ton of carbon ($60 per ton of CO2), which is substantially higher than the carbon price envisioned by most policy makers. This suggests that if policymakers wanted to set an efficient price for natural gas that incorporated the cost of carbon emissions, they should LOWER natural gas prices. 
Paper & Presentation

March 10, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
2008 Financial Crisis and Leverage at Investment Banks
Thomas Healey, M-RCBG Senior Fellow
Abstract: Many cite excessive leverage among the biggest investment banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch) as a root cause of the 2008 financial crisis.  Not long before Lehman Brothers collapsed, Lee A. Pickard, a former SEC official wrote, “the losses incurred by Bear Stearns and other large broker-dealers were not caused by ‘rumors’ or a ‘crisis of confidence,’ but rather by inadequate net capital and the lack of constraints on the incurring of debt.” Simple anecdotal evidence supports that conclusion – three of the firms no longer exist and the other two became bank holding companies in shotgun weddings. In this seminar, Tom Healey will explore the reality of leverage at the investment banks as well as examine what really caused the run on these banks at the heart of the 2008 crisis. 

April 7, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America's Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era
Clyde V. Prestowitz, Jr., President, Economic Strategy Institute

April 14, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
Causes and Solutions to the Financial Crisis
John Haigh, Co-Director, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Executive Dean of the Kennedy School


RPP Seminars on Financial Regulation, 2009-2010