Has the Obama Administration Retreated From Behavioral Economics?

The WSJ implies that the answer is yes in an interesting article describing the Obama administration’s changing views on behavioral economics and regulation.  The theme of the article is that the Obama administration has eschewed the “soft paternalism” based “nudge” approach endorsed by the behavioral economics crowd and that received so much attention in the blogs — especially as it related to Cass Sunstein’s appointment to OIRA, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency and a few other issues — in favor of harder paternalism and “shoves” including recent proposals for “regulating health-insurance rate increases, separating commercial banking from investing on behalf of their own bottom lines, and prohibiting commercial banks from owning or investing in private-equity firms or hedge funds.”  The article also points to a proposal for new regulations (that I had not heard of prior), that “would require retirement counselors to base their advice on computer models that have been certified as independent” as a precondition that must be satisfied before advisers can push funds with which they are affiliated.

Read the full piece here