Conflicts of interest abound in the world of academic research. Many were highlighted in last year's Academy Award-winning documentary about the financial crisis, "Inside Job."
The latest example of such a conflict comes from the halls of George Washington University. In a research report released last month, professor Robert Van Order, chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis there, and professor Anthony Yezer, director of the university's Center for Economic Research, make a strong argument for shrinking the role of the Federal Housing Administration in insuring mortgages. But nowhere is it disclosed that the paper was at least partially underwritten by the private mortgage insurance giant Genworth Financial Inc., which stands to benefit from a pull back in the market by FHA.