On the occasion of Professor Udo Reifner’s 70th birthday, an interactive blog of reviews of Udo’s work has been published by the Institut Fur Finanzdienstleistungen (‘Institute for Financial Services’ – IFF) in Hamburg.

As the founder and, for many years the Director of the IFF, and as the driving force behind the creation of the European Coalition for Responsible Credit (‘ECRC’) in 2005, Udo has made an immense contribution to the development of arguments in support of responsible and productive credit extension. As he has now recently turned 70, and although his contribution is by no means over yet, colleagues at the IFF have published a series of new reviews of his prior publications and are welcoming comments on the ideas that Udo has developed.

CfRC Director, Damon Gibbons, was delighted to have been asked to review Udo’s paper concerning the development of the EU’s Consumer Credit Directive, and there are many other English language contributions,, including from Professor Iain Ramsay and Joseph Spooner concerning the Principles of Responsible Credit and Responsible Bankruptcy respectively.

The blog is well worth reading, with papers available for download as pdf files, and it is great that the blog provides an opportunity for people to comment on the ideas that are presented.  We encourage people to take the time out to reflect on these, and it is only left for us to recognise the contribution that Udo made to securing the cap on payday lending here in the UK.

In 2004, when the then Department for Trade and Industry published research commissioned from Policis into the impact of interest rate controls in other countries (including in Germany), it did so with a view to securing a consensus that such regulations would drive people into the arms of illegal money-lenders.  At that time, only the Debt on our Doorstep campaign (which I co-chaired with Niall Cooper from Church Action on Poverty) had a firm policy position in favour of caps in the UK.  On a wet sunday, sat in front of a laptop in Leicester, I scoured the internet searching for academics who had studied the issue and whom we could approach for advice.  Udo’s name was one of the very few that came up.

I was genuinely surprised that Udo responded to my e-mail, and that he was so generous in his support for our campaign.  Had it not been for his enthusiasm, and his razor sharp analysis of the failings of the methods employed by Policis, it is likely that our campaign would have run out of steam at that point.  Instead, the neo-liberal position of the UK Government and regulators became a part of the rationale for founding the European Coalition,and this would subsequently bring us into contact with supporters not only in Europe itself but all over the world. The formation of the ECRC re-energised and equipped us intellectually for long the fight ahead.

It was, of course, to take a full decade of fighting the consensus – using not only robust research, but also media campaigning, and Parliamentary lobbying – to achieve the cap on payday lenders.  We clearly need to extend the total cost cap applying to payday lenders right across the consumer credit market, but today there is a growing consenus in favour of caps for which we should be proud. And so, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, we say thank you to Udo Reifner, and encourage people to read about his work in further detail.

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