Devin Fergus
Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies, Director of Graduate Studies
E114 Locust Street

On Leave 2023-2024

Devin Fergus is the Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies. His research focuses on political economy, policy, and inequality in modern America. Professor Fergus is the author of Land of the Fee (Oxford, 2018) which the explores the hidden costs of rising financial fees at home, school, work, and transportation on wealth and mobility in modern America. A much-anticipated work, Land of the Fee has been called one of the five best books for understanding capitalism today. His current research project examines white-collar crime and the racial wealth gap.

Fergus is guest editor of the special issue Banking without Borders: Culture and Credit in the New Financial World for Kalfou, a journal published by Temple University Press. This special issue examines the impact of four decades of financial deregulation in the US on vulnerable populations, which has increasingly affected the middle class. He has written widely on policy, political economy, and inequality for the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Guardian. Along with Louis Hyman, Bethany Moreton, and Julia Ott, Professor Fergus is also editor of the Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism book series published by Columbia University Press.

Professor Fergus has worked closely with several national policy organizations (e.g., Demos, Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, and Prosperity Now) and has presented research to a number of federal entities, including the US Treasury, US Department of Education, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Special Master (Kenneth Feinberg) for TARP Executive Compensation. Professor Fergus received his PhD in American history from Columbia University.

Recent Interviews and Presentations

Interview for The Presidency, An online MA history course offered by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Adams State University. July 21, 2017.

“When College was a Public Good.” By Scott Carlson. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 27, 2016.

“The Time Republicans Helped Build an All-Black City called ‘Soul City.’” By Brentin Mock. The Atlantic: CityLab, November 6, 2015.

In Some States, Low-Income Drivers Get Help with Auto Insurance.” By Alice Holbrook. Nerdwallet, April 21, 2015. 

On Financial Deregulation.OSU Experts, Sept. 8, 2014.

Senior Fellow Devin Fergus Talks Jim Crow, Donald Sterling, and the Racial Wealth Gap.” By Taroue Brooks., May 22, 2014.

Wealth Inequality in the ‘Land of the Fee’: A Conversation with Devin Fergus.” By Carolina Reid. Berkeley Planning Journal, 26, no. 1 (2013).

Land of the Fee: The Rise of Consumer Finance Fees and the Decline of Upward Mobility.” John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Jan. 2013.

Dodd-Frank: How Will Financial Services be Transformed from Main Street to Wall Street?” New America Foundation, July 13, 2010.

New America Foundation Interviews Devin Fergus. By Justin King. July 13, 2010.

Economic Inequality and the Return of Jim Crow.” C-SPAN, April 5 2010.

“‘Why Don’t American Cities Burn?’ Michael Katz and Devin Fergus Discuss Racial Inequality and Urban Poverty.” New America Foundation, Washington DC February 17, 2010.

In the Press

Do the Hustle: Payday Lenders and Their Victims Dancing to Lose.” Huffington Post, December 15 2014.

Ending This Fee for All.” New York Times, Oct. 15, 2014.

My Students Pay Too Much for College. Blame Reagan.” Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2014. 

Are Auto Insurance Companies Red-Lining Poor, Urban Drivers? Guardian, July 21, 2014. 

Devin Fergus Challenges Critics of Ferguson Protests: Why Riot?, Aug. 25, 2014.

HOPE Reduction Creates New Losers.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 11, 2011.

Regulators Who Look Like America.The American Prospect [online], Aug. 19, 2010.


Political economy, policy, and inequality in modern America

Select Publications

Guest Co-editor. Banking without Borders: Culture and Credit in the New Financial World. Special issue of Kalfou 1 (2014).

Financial Fracking in the Land of the Fee, 1980–2008.” In The Assets Perspective. Edited by Reid Cramer and Trina R. Williams Shanks. Palgrave MacMillan, 2014.

The Ghetto Tax: Auto Insurance, Postal Code Profiling, and the Hidden History of Wealth Transfer in America.” In Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era. Edited by Fredrick C. Harris and Robert C. Lieberman. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013.

What Are the Predictors of Economic Instability? Assets, Economic Instability, and Children’s Human Capital: Building a Better Welfare System for the Poor.” William Elliott, Devin Fergus, and Terri Friedline. Assets & Education Initiative, Sept. 24, 2012.

Black Power, Soft Power.Journal of Policy History 22 (2010): 148–92.

Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965–1980 (Georgia, 2009). Choice Outstanding Academic Book (2010)