Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ensuring Openness in Financial Products

By Amelia Warren Tyagi

Imagine buying a tube of toothpaste. After using the toothpaste, you are rushed to the emergency room to have your stomach pumped. The paste contained rat poison. But, when you try to complain, you are told that you should have read the label more carefully, as the ingredient list included hydroxycoumarin. You are told that you should have known that meant rat poison.

Now imagine if the conclusion of most pundits and policymakers were “no new laws are needed; you just need more chemistry education.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

But that’s the same situation consumers face every day with financial products that are advertised at one rate, but that rate mysteriously sky-rockets months later.