Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law

Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Geraint Howells, Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wihelmsson and David Kraft

Consumer law and policy has emerged in the last half-century as a major policy concern for all nations. This Handbook of original contributions provides an international and comparative analysis of central issues in consumer law and policy in developed and developing economies.

Chapter 13: Regulation of Consumer Credit

Iain Ramsay

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, human rights, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, human rights


Iain Ramsay* 1. Introduction Consumer credit – particularly sales credit – is not a modern invention,1 but there was often disapproval of borrowing for consumption rather than production. There probably remains a perception that credit is a slightly dangerous product – a perception that might seem to be confirmed by the sub-prime mortgage debacle – and that is reflected in the requirement of ex ante control by some governments of suppliers’ access to the credit market.2 * Thanks to Geraint Howells, David Kraft, Elaine Kempson, John Pottow and Toni Williams for comments. 1 There is now a substantial historical literature. For the US see for example L. Calder (1999), Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press and sources cited in Lizabeth Cohen (2003), A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass-consumption in Postwar America, New York: Knopf. In the UK see for example M. Finn (2003), The Character of Credit, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; P. Johnson (1985), Saving and Spending: The Working-class Economy in Britain 1870–1939, Oxford: Oxford University Press; C. Muldrew (1998), The Economy of Obligation, London: Macmillan; S. O’Connell and C. Reid (2005), ‘Working Class Credit in the UK, 1925–60: The Role of the Check Trader’, Economic History Review 378–405; S. O’Connell (2009), Credit and Community: Working-Class Debt in the UK since 1880, Oxford: Oxford University Press; S.E. Brown (2006), ‘Consumer Credit and Over-indebtedness: Past, Present and Future’, Ph.D. thesis, Leeds University. For general histories see the polemical text by R.M. Gelpi...

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