Tom Miller


Tom Miller, Jr. is a Senior Research Fellow at Consumers’ Research. He is a Professor of Finance and inaugural holder of the Jack R. Lee Chair in Financial Institutions and Consumer Finance at Mississippi State University. With its focus on Consumer Finance, notably installment credit products, the Lee Chair is the first of its kind. He currently serves as a member of the Academic Research Council at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Professor Miller has several ongoing research projects on various topics in small-dollar loans. His current research now includes projects on payday loans and on small-dollar installment loans.

Miller is a frequent speaker at national conferences and conventions. His overall topics generally focus on the value to consumers of maintaining access to small-dollar credit products, the value of competition in small-dollar credit products, and educating policymakers about how small-dollar credit products work.

Miller has had, and maintains, a long-standing interest in derivative securities and investments. He has published numerous scholarly peer-reviewed articles on various topics in derivative securities. In addition, he is the author of How Do Small-Dollar Nonbank Loans Work? and co-author (with Bradford D. Jordan and Steve Dolvin) of Fundamentals of Investments: Valuation and Management, 9th ed. (McGraw-Hill/Irwin). He is also co-author (with David Dubofsky) of Derivatives: Valuation and Risk Management (Oxford University Press).

Miller received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Washington (Seattle) and his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in applied economics from Montana State University. In his off hours, he enjoys playing jazz and blues on the tenor saxophone.

Latest from Tom Miller

Why Do Lawmakers Ignore Evidence When They Make Laws?

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and three co-sponsors recently introduced yet another ill-advised bill to impose a nationwide All-in 36 percent interest rate cap. The measure would mean that lenders would be prohibited from offering loans, regardless of their...

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Effects of Illinois’ 36% Interest Rate Cap on Small-Dollar Credit Availability and Financial Well-being

Economic theory predicts that a binding interest-rate cap decreases credit availability for high-risk borrowers. On March 23, 2021, Illinois imposed an all-in interest-rate cap of 36 percent per annum for loans under $40,000 from non-bank and non-credit-union lenders. We use credit bureau data for Illinois and its neighboring state, Missouri, a state without any legislated interest-rate cap, to estimate the effects of the Illinois rate cap on unsecured installment loans.

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A Close Look at the Recent Study of the Effects of Illinois’ 36% “All-In” Interest Rate Cap on Small-Dollar Credit Availability, with Special Guest Tom Miller, Professor of Finance, Mississippi State University, and Study Co-Author

Using data for the last quarter of 2020 and first three quarters of 2021, the study examined the effects of the 36% rate cap imposed by the Illinois Predatory Loan Prevention Act which became effective in March 2021. The study found that the cap significantly decreased the availability of small-dollar credit in Illinois. We first discuss the types of loans affected by the rate cap, the users of such loans, and the data sets used to study the cap’s effects. We then discuss the study’s results, the authors’ response to criticism of the study, and the issues raised by a potential national rate cap.

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The CFPB’s Approach to Regulating Payday Lending: A Discussion with Todd J. Zywicki and Thomas Miller

Profs. Zywicki and Miller have co-authored a soon-to-be published study, “The Effects on Consumers from Two State-Level Regulations of the Payday Loan Market,” in which they analyzed 15.6 million storefront payday loans made to 1.8 million unique borrowers in 2013 to determine whether the number of loans a consumer takes in a year is a meaningful assessment of consumer welfare.

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The CFPB’s Arbitrary Attacks on Payday Loans

The new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, has started rattling his interventionist saber only two months after his Senate confirmation. From pushing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to block bank mergers to attacking bank overdraft fees, Mr. Chopra is moving aggressively.

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Mercatus Center Publications

Comment in Response to Proposed Rule on Payday, Vehicle-Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (Bureau) proposed rule governing payday, vehicle-title, and certain high-cost installment loans. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is dedicated to bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems and to advancing knowledge about the effects of regulation on society. This comment, therefore, does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest group but is designed to assist the Bureau as it considers how best to regulate certain credit products.

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How Do Small-Dollar, Nonbank Loans Work?

Millions of Americans rely on small-dollar, non-bank-supplied credit products: payday, pawn, vehicle title, and personal installment loans from finance companies. Many features of these vital products, however, are not well understood. This book contains explanations of how these loans work, what features they share, and how they differ. Readers seeking to understand these products might learn something surprising.

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Righting a Flawed Payday Loans Rule

Recently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed to reexamine the role of payday lenders, which are consistently cast as the villains of the financial industry. Such a depiction makes it easy to forget that these lenders are helping millions of Americans solve very real financial problems each year.

The demand for small-dollar loans won’t disappear even if we close off the legal avenues to access them. That’s why CFPB’s new proposal is a clear win for consumers, as well as for evidence-based policy.

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0%: The Correct Corporate Tax Rate

New and returning members of a soon-to-be divided Congress might be tempted to heed the words of the late Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), who once summed up tax reform nicely: “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.” Read more at...

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Response to Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Request for Information Regarding Bureau External Engagements

In my opinion, quantitative, not qualitative, analysis should underpin nearly all the endeavors of the Office of Research.

The Academic Research Council has not fulfilled its original purpose. I base my opinion on a preliminary analysis of the published output of the Bureau’s research staff, and on my readings of the minutes of the Council meetings. Moreover, the mission of the Council can and should be expanded to benefit consumers.

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Are Credit Cards Becoming Obsolete?

Are credit cards going away in five years in favor of new payment technologies or new ways to transfer funds? Not likely. For most Americans, plastic credit cards are an example of “low tech, good tech.”

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Violet Needs a Loan

After discussing the history of consumer credit in the United States, the current state of regulatory affairs surrounding consumer credit, and the future of consumer credit products with all of the participants, I began to wonder how this information might apply to someone in the real world. What if someone needed a loan for an emergency repair? What alternatives would such a person consider?

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Congress Must Heel Rogue Financial Watchdog

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new rule focusing on alleged “debt traps” caused by payday loans.

It is hard to know exactly what is in this 1,590-page rule, but it includes a “Full Payment Test” requiring lenders to “determine whether the borrower can pay the loan payments and still meet basic living expenses and major financial obligations both during the loan and for 30 days after.” 

Will consumers who need a loan to cover basic living expenses until their financial condition improves now be denied a hand up? If so, this rule is disastrous for the very people it allegedly protects.

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Adverse Consequences of the Binding Constitutional Interest Rate Cap in the State of Arkansas

Many Americans today live paycheck to paycheck and use credit to pay unexpected bills or to cover normal bills in the event of an unplanned income disruption. The availability of consumer credit is limited and shaped through ongoing legislative and regulatory action. Interest rate caps are a common way states regulate credit markets. In Arkansas, there is a constitutionally imposed interest rate cap of 17 percent for all loans.

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