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December 7, 2011

Market Watchdog

This article appeared in the Tuesday, December 6, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily.

After wrestling with the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath as a key staffer on Capitol Hill, Marc Jarsulic has moved into the advocacy arena to try to make sure such a meltdown doesn’t happen again.

Jarsulic, who just left back-to-back jobs as chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee and most recently for the Senate Banking Committee, went to work late last month for Better Markets, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that promotes the public interest in the capital and commodity markets.

“Marc brings unparalleled experience and skills to Better Markets,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Dennis Kelleher. “He will focus on banking issues at Treasury, the Fed, and the banking agencies generally.”

The move makes Jarsulic one of the few former Hill staffers involved in the Dodd-Frank law who hasn’t parlayed his experience with Wall Street reform into a lucrative position in the financial sector. A former economics professor, Jarsulic seems to relish the idea of providing sound advice to lawmakers and regulators on the challenges ahead for the world’s financial markets.

“I will be working on things that relate to financial stability,” he said. “What we’re going to try to do is research and advocacy that supports good regulation.”

Jarsulic is a native of Dearborn Heights, Mich. He earned a doctorate in economics at the University of Pennsylvania and landed a teaching position at the University of Notre Dame. While he was a tenured professor, Jarsulic decided to pursue a law degree on the side at the University of Michigan Law School.

Receiving his degree prompted Jarsulic to head to Washington, where he started at the Federal Trade Commission in 1998. Then, after a stint with a private law firm, he went to work as an attorney in the Office of Risk Assessment at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In mid-2007, just as signs of economic turmoil began appearing, Jarsulic became deputy staff director and chief economist at the Joint Economic Committee, then chaired by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

“The financial crisis started essentially when I walked in the door,” Jarsulic said. “The first thing we tried to get a handle on was the subprime-mortgage market and the crisis developing there.” He knew from his work at the SEC that the housing market had serious problems, but few expected them to be as bad as they were, he said.

“It was an incredibly interesting moment to be working in Congress,” Jarsulic said.

When things began to stabilize in 2009, he joined the staff of the Senate Banking Committee as chief economist, and the all-consuming task became regulatory reform for Wall Street. The result was the law enacted last year that bears the names of former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.

“The ultimate effect of Dodd-Frank is something we’ll only know as things evolve,” Jarsulic said. And from his vantage point at Better Markets, he will be monitoring the situation closely, and offering advice to those who can keep the reform effort on track.

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