OU Law Holds Discussion on the Pandemic's Economic Impact

April 14, 2021

NORMAN, OKLA. - On April 14, 2021, The University of Oklahoma College of Law is holding an hour long virtual discussion, starting at 12:00 p.m. CDT, on The Pandemic’s Economic Impact: Exploring Commercial and Consumer Finance Issues with expert panelists including Abbye Atkinson, Assistant Professor of Law at University of California, Berkeley; Pamela Foohey, Professor of Law, Indiana University; Dalié Jiménez, Professor of Law and director of the Student Loan Law Initiative, University of California, Irvine; Christopher K. Odinet, Professor of Law, University of Iowa, and moderator, Megan Wischmeier Shaner, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship and Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma.

“In addition to the devastating loss of life and continuing public health crisis, the pandemic has negatively impacted Americans financially as well devastating the U.S. and global economies,” Shaner stated. “The panelists will discuss consumer and commercial finance issues caused by the pandemic as well as how the laws enacted in response to the pandemic such as the CARES Act or the more recent The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021are or are not solving the problems.”   

The panelists will touch on several topics to include:

  1. How and whether our legal framework and institutions help or hinder how individuals cope with financial distress
  2. How the law of debtors and creditors affects marginalized communities
  3. How the laws governing commercial and consumer finance, including student loan debt, mortgage lending, and other types of credit, work or do not work in addressing financial distress
  4. What are some alternative paths forward for the law to address the financial distress, in particular entrenched and enduring poverty in certain communities, caused by the pandemic’s economic fallout.


Excerpt from a published article that touches on parts of the pandemic’s economic impact from a few of the panelists: “Within weeks of the coronavirus pandemic appearing in the United States, the American economy came to a grinding halt. The unprecedented modern health crisis and the collapsing economy forced Congress to make a critical choice about how to help families survive financially. Congress had two basic options. It could enact policies that provided direct and meaningful financial support to people, without the necessity of later repayment. Or it could pursue policies that temporarily relieved people from their financial obligations but required that they eventually pay amounts subject to payment moratoria later.

In passing the CARES Act, Congress primarily chose the second option. This option reflects a belief that offering people credit can bring them meaningful relief because it assumes that people will have the ability to pay back the loan as it becomes due. The assumption that people will be able to repay credit masquerading as “relief” in the wake of the pandemic is a serious error that will have enduring negative consequences.

In short, Congress got the balance between providing true money versus what amount to credit products to people fundamentally backwards. But given that, unfortunately, the effects of the pandemic likely will continue for months, if not years, it is not too late for Congress to adopt a family financial well-being approach to relief that provides meaningful, widespread, and expanded direct payments to households in distress.”  Pamela Foohey, Dalié Jiménez & Christopher K. Odinet, The Folly of Credit As Pandemic Relief, 68 UCLA L. Rev. Discourse 126 (2020).

To listen in on the discussion, please register for this free presentation through Zoom, https://bit.ly/3fXUUCS.



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