Mark A. Cohen

Academic Affiliate, Nathan Associates Inc.; Professor of American Competitive Enterprise and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University


Ph.D., Economics, Carnegie-Mellon University
M.A., Economics, Carnegie-Mellon University
B.S.F.S., International Economics, Georgetown University

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For nearly 30 years, as a consulting expert, Professor Cohen has been hired by both plaintiff and defense counsel to testify in both state and federal court on a wide range of economic issues in complex class action litigation including class action certifications, liability, damages, and class action fairness hearings. Among the issues he has consulted and testified on are: racial disparity and markups in auto lending and mortgages, damages arising out of alleged consumer fraud from mislabeled products, victim harm in identity theft cases, damages in Fair Credit Reporting Act violations, and appropriate penalties in environmental enforcement cases. He has been hired as a consulting expert to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

Mark A. Cohen is the Justin Potter Professor of American Competitive Enterprise and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University. He is also a University Fellow at Resources for the Future. Professor Cohen has published nearly 100 peer reviewed articles, books, chapters, etc. on a wide range of topics. He is often called upon by government and research organizations to consult, lecture, and/or serve in advisory roles. Recent examples include the U.S. Department of Justice (on mortgage lending and auto lending discrimination), Federal Trade Commission (on predatory lending practices), U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board (on the benefits of illegal behavior), and the General Accountability Office (on disclosure of environmental information in SEC filings). From 1998-2003, he served as Chairman of the American Statistical Association’s Committee on Law and Justice. He is a former staff economist at the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection Division working on consumer marketing and fraud cases. He is also an expert on damages and restitution in the case of alleged corporate wrongdoing, having been the expert economist who developed the background data and analysis leading up to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Guidelines for organizations convicted of federal crimes. Professor Cohen received his Ph.D. in Economics from Carnegie-Mellon University.

As an expert on sustainability and corporate strategy, Professor Cohen has consulted with numerous global companies and government agencies, and currently serves on ExxonMobil’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel. He previously served as Vice President of Research at Resources for the Future.

Professor Cohen has taught MBA and law students at Vanderbilt since 1986, including courses such as “Economics of Organizations,” “Corporate Strategies for Environmental, Social and Governance Issues,” the Future of Energy Markets in a Low Carbon Economy,” and the “Law and Business of Climate Change.”

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Consumer protection and discriminatory lending practices; microeconomics; public policy analysis; environmental regulation; criminal justice issues; corporate crime and punishment; street crime

Industry Experience

Automobile sales and lending
Consumer lending
Mortgage lending
Oil and Gas Extraction
Renewable Energy Industry
Nursing Homes (valuation)
Private Prison Industry

Selected Publications & Presentations


“The Evolution Of Corporate Criminal Settlements: An Empirical Perspective On Non-Prosecution, Deferred Prosecution, and Plea Agreements,” (joint with Cindy R. Alexander) American Criminal Law Review, vol. 52 (3): 537-93 (2015).

“Willingness to Pay to Reduce White Collar and Corporate Crime,” Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, vol. 6 (2): 305-24 (2015).

“The Impact of Water Depth on Safety and Environmental Performance in Offshore Oil and Gas Production.” (joint with Lucija Muehlenbachs and Todd Gerarden) Energy Policy vol. 55, pp. 699-705 (2013).

“Imperfect Competition in Auto Lending: Subjective Markups, Racial Disparity, and Class Action Litigation.” Review of Law and Economics vol. 8, no. 1: 21-58. (2012) Working Paper available at

“Deepwater Drilling: Law, Policy, and Economics of Firm Organization and Safety,” (joint with Madeline Gottlieb, Joshua Linn and Nathan Richardson 64 Vanderbilt Law Review 1853-1916 (2011).

“Organizational Design for Spill Containment in Deepwater Drilling Operations in the Gulf of Mexico: Assessment of the Marine Well Containment Corporation (MWCC), (joint with Nathan Richardson, Molly K. Macauley, Robert Anderson, and Adam Stern. Risks, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 1 (2011).

“Understanding the Causes of Corporate Crime: An Economic Perspective,” (joint with Cindy R. Alexander), in Prosecutors in The Boardroom: Using Criminal Law to Regulate Corporate Conduct, Anthony Barkow (ed.). NY: NYU Press (2011).

“How Much is the Public Willing to Pay to be Protected from Identity Theft?” (joint with Nicole Leeper Piquero and Alex R. Piquero. Justice Quarterly 28(3): 437-58 (2010).

“Cyber Crime,” Chapter 14, pp.346-74 in Criminal Law and Economics, Nuno Garoupa (ed). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar (2009).

“Do Government Agencies Respond to Market Pressures? Evidence from Private Prisons.” (joint with James F. Blumstein and Suman Seth. Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law. 15(3): 446-77 (2008). (Working paper available at:

“Empirical Research on the Deterrent Effect of Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement,” Environmental Law Reporter, 30: 10245-52 (April 2000).

“Regulating Corporate Criminal Sanctions: Evidence on the Effect of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines,” (joint with Cindy R. Alexander and Jennifer Arlen), Journal of Law and Economics, 42: 393-42 (April 1999).

"Environmental Crime and Punishment: Legal/Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence on Enforcement of Federal Environmental Statutes," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 82 (3): 1054-1108 (1992).

"The Motives of Judges: Empirical Evidence from Antitrust Sentencing," International Review of Law and Economics 12: 13-30 (1992).

"Corporate Crime and Punishment: An Update on Sentencing Practice in the Federal Courts, 1988-1990," Boston University Law Review, 71 (2): 247-80 (March 1991).

“The Antitrust Sentencing Guideline: Is the Punishment Worth the Costs?” (joint with David T. Scheffman) American Criminal Law Review 27 (2): 331-66 (Fall 1989).

"The Costs and Benefits of Oil Spill Prevention and Enforcement," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, vol. 13, 167-88 (1986).


“Class Action Litigation in Auto Lending: Subjective Markup & Racial Disparity,” Annual Meeting of the American College of Business Court Judges,” George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, September 16, 2013.

“The Next Generation of Private Prison Studies,” Presented at ‘Private Prisons Evaluation Forum – A Case Study Of The Federal Bureau of Prisons Taft Facility,’ National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC, March 28, 2007

“Corporate Sustainability Reporting,” International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation/American Petroleum Institute Workshop on CSR/Sustainability Reporting, San Francisco, CA. April 3, 2003.


American Economic Association
American Bar Association (associate)
Association of Environmental & Resource Economists
National Association of Forensic Economists
Society of Benefit Cost Analysis

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