Did U.S. Housing Policy Cause the 2008 Financial Crisis?

What is the Right Policy for the Future?

October 25, 2016

Join the GW Center for Law, Economics, and Finance for a debate with premier national experts about whether the 2008 Financial Crisis was caused by U.S. Housing Policy. The participants will also make suggestions of the right policy moving forward. 


  • Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr., Professor of Law, GW Law


  • Peter J. Wallison, Senior Fellow and Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Damon Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel, AFL-CIO
  • Kenneth Snowden, Professor of Economics, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Bryan School of Business and Economics


Peter J. Wallison
Peter J. Wallison, a co-director of the American Enterprise Institute's program on financial policy studies, researches banking, insurance, and securities regulation. As general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, he had a significant role in the development of the Reagan administration’s proposals for the deregulation of the financial services industry. He also served as White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan.  This year, Wallison just published the book Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World's Worst Financial Crisis—and Why It Could Happen Again.  He also authored the following books: Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency (Westview Press, 2002); Competitive Equity: A Better Way to Organize Mutual Funds (2007); Privatizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (2004); The GAAP Gap: Corporate Disclosure in the Internet Age (2000); and Optional Federal Chartering and Regulation of Insurance Companies (2000). He also writes for AEI’s Financial Services Outlook series.

Damon Silvers
Damon A. Silvers is the Director of Policy and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO.  He joined the AFL-CIO as Associate General Counsel in 1997.  Mr. Silvers serves on a pro bono basis as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the state of New York.  Mr. Silvers is also a member of the Investor Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department’s Financial Research Advisory Committee, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Standing Advisory Group and its Investor Advisory Group.  Mr. Silvers served as the Deputy Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP from 2008 to 2011.  Between 2006 and 2008, Mr. Silvers served as the Chair of the Competition Subcommittee of the United States Treasury Department Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession and as a member of the United States Treasury Department Investor’s Practice Committee of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. Prior to working for the AFL-CIO, Mr. Silvers worked for the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers, and as a law clerk at the Delaware Court of Chancery for Chancellor William T. Allen and Vice-Chancellor Bernard Balick.

Kenneth Snowden

Kenneth A. Snowden is Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has published extensively on the history of the U.S. mortgage market including as co-author of Well Worth Saving: How the New Deal Safeguarded Homeownership, (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and as co-editor of and contributor to Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective (University of Chicago Press, 2014). He published a book chapter "The anatomy of a residential mortgage crisis: a look back to the 1930s" in The Panic of 2008: Causes, Consequences and Implications for Reform (Edward Elgar, 2010.)  Dr. Snowden received his Ph.D. in Economic History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   

Arthur Wilmarth
Art Wilmarth joined the GW Law faculty in 1986, following 11 years in private law practice. Prior to joining the law school, he was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Jones Day. Professor Wilmarth teaches courses in banking law, contracts, corporations, professional responsibility, and American constitutional history. He served as Executive Director of GW’s Center for Law, Economics, and Finance from 2011 to 2014, and he has been a member of the Center’s Executive Board since its founding in 2009.  Professor Wilmarth is the author of more than forty law review articles and book chapters in the fields of banking law and American constitutional history, and he is the co-editor of a book on the financial crisis of 2008. In 2005, the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers awarded him its prize for the best law review article published in the field of consumer financial services law during the previous year.  Professor Wilmarth has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, the California legislature, and the D.C. Council on bank regulatory issues. In 2010, he was a consultant to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the body established by Congress to report on the causes of the financial crisis. 


GW Law, long recognized as one of the top law schools in the country, pursues a distinctive research and learning mission that engages the leading law and policy questions of our time and provides students with an education that will position them to help change the world. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, GW Law was founded in 1865 and was the first law school in the District of Columbia.

The GW Center for Law, Economics, and Finance brings together diverse perspectives from the academic community, Main Street, Wall Street, and Washington to address important issues affecting the economy and financial markets.

Media Contact

Kara Tershel
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Tuesday, November 1, 2016
5:30 pm



The George Washington University Law School
The Jacob Burns Moot Court Room
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052