Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Can Anything Save Us from Unintended Consequences?

Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition which won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association. He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Quick quiz: What caused the Great Recession of 2008?

OK, I admit it. That’s an unfair question. It was complicated. If you’ve done some homework, you might be able to mumble something about a housing bubble, subprime lending, mortgage-backed securities, credit-default swaps, big banks, irresponsible borrowers, George W. Bush, Barack Obama….

But there is one thing I can be fairly certain you will not mention: the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). You may not have heard of BAPCPA or, if you have, it may only be a foggy memory. So, here is a little history:

In the 1990s, personal bankruptcies were rising sharply, and the banking industry began a lobbying campaign to stiffen the bankruptcy requirements—a move that was expected to increase the profits of credit card companies. Attempts to pass a bill failed until President George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. Finally, after big banks spent $40 million in campaign contributions and millions more in lobbying efforts, the bill went into effect in late 2005 (Labaton 2005). It had a number of provisions, but most importantly it increased the up-front costs of filing for bankruptcy and made the process more onerous.

Figure 1. Nonbusiness (personal) bankruptcies and percentage of homes in foreclosure (right-hand axis) for the years 1990–2016. The vertical line marks the implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.
Sources: U.S. Courts and Mortgage Bankers Association.
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - July August 2017
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - July August 2017
Or 299 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 2.83 per issue
Or 1699 points

View Issues

About Skeptical Inquirer

Fire-Breathing Dinosaurs? Physics, Fossils, and Functional Morphology vs. Pseudoscience JonBenet Murder Mystery Solved? (Not by Psychics) An Investigation of the Missing411 Conspiracy