In 2009, the US government passed bipartisan legislation designed to make the credit card industry fairer, and hold down credit card fees. Economists are flabbergasted to find that it did those things.

Floyd Norris reports that when economists decided to study the effects of the law, they expected that they would be negligible, due to cunning credit card companies finding loopholes and such. Nope:

But his expectation was wrong. The study came to a conclusion that surprised Mr. Mahoney and his colleagues: The regulation worked. It cut down the costs of credit cards, particularly for borrowers with poor credit... [The economists estimate] that the law is saving American consumers $20.8 billion a year.

The government passed a law to reduce credit card fees and as a result credit card fees were reduced. It almost seems as if government regulation of capitalism's excesses and exploitative practices may benefit consumers. (And, when people fatalistically assume that reform is a lost cause because financial companies are so crafty and well-connected that they can somehow circumvent every law, it's fair to say: Make them prove it.)

For an alternate perspective, Fox Biz Network hair model John Stossel sez: "Privatize Everything!"

[Photo: AP]