It’s been thirteen years coming, but earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (“WPEA”), which, the White House press release says: “Amends whistleblower protections for Federal employees by: clarifying the scope of protected disclosures; tightening requirements for non-disclosure agreements; expanding the penalties imposed for violating whistleblower protections; and… Continue Reading
I am excited to announce that earlier this week the senate voted to approve the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. According to the Office of the Special Counsel, which will enforce the new legislation, the WPEA will increase protections for Federal whistleblowers by: Nullify court decisions that narrowed protections for government whistleblowers. Extend whistleblower protections to… Continue Reading
There are many great things that can be said about Senator Warren’s victory: she is the first woman to be elected U.S. Senator from Massachusetts; she symbolizes the American dream (her father was a janitor and she worked as a waitress); and for Democrats, her victory eliminated the possibility of a Republican controlled Senate. But… Continue Reading
Following recent lawsuits, court decisions, and presidential debates, more Americans than ever are becoming familiar with the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in 2010 to increase the government’s ability to regulate big banks. Many politicians and lobbyists have argued for repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, but a recent New York Times editorial poses an interesting question:… Continue Reading
Yesterday, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), appeared before the House Committee on Financial Services to summarize and respond to questions on the CFPB’s semi-annual report, released on July 30th and available here. Cordray took a calm and measured approach to presenting the CFPB’s work thus far. He highlighted the substantive… Continue Reading
Moderate and respected Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a press release on August 1st describing their proposed bill S. 3468, the “Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012.” For all intents and purposes the bill seeks to take the “independence” out of “Independent Regulatory Agencies”. That’s right. Who… Continue Reading
I’m glad to read that it is not just me that has noticed the abnormally high number of bank-related scandals that have broken over the past couple months. I’ll do a quick highlight review to refresh our memory. First, we had JP Morgan (the biggest U.S.-based bank with $2.29 trillion in assets) reveal an increasingly… Continue Reading
Scanning headlines today, I saw words that I never thought would go in the same sentence together: “In $440 Million Trading Error, Upside of Wall St. Failures.” An upside? To a Wall Street Failure? Well, this New York Times article argues that failure in the financial system actually helps to improve the financial system, a… Continue Reading
Breaking news. The Regulators knew as far back as 2008 that the LIBOR rate was being manipulated. This latest development in the metastasizing Libor scandal is mighty disturbing. The esteemed New York Federal Reserve Bank, on the regulatory “front line” for policing the banking industry, released documents that showed regulators in both the US and… Continue Reading
As Senator Charles E. Grassley puts it, “the FDA is discouraging whistle-blowers.” How? By monitoring their employees using a computer program called SpectorSoft. Much like parents would monitor the internet usage of their young children, the FDA is screening personal email of a select few employees who raised safety concerns about certain medical devices in… Continue Reading
The anticipation is over. After holding our collective breath for days, weeks, months even, we can all take a deep one now. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional. What started out as a conservative-backed long-shot lawsuit has now been resolved. Thank you, Supreme Court of the United States, for resolving this very… Continue Reading
On June 24, 2012 the Washington Post reported that not one, not two, not three, but thirty-four members of Congress made changes to their personal investment portfolios during the 2008 financial meltdown, after talking to the Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson (or another senior administration official such as Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke). Where is the… Continue Reading
People should be scared of testifying before Congress, especially the Senate Banking Committee. Going before such a high powered group of people to be questioned about your actions should leave you quaking in your boots and sweating bullets. This is it – when the American people, the public, will hold you accountable for whatever poor… Continue Reading
Today government regulators from the SEC and CFTC testified before the Senate’s Banking Committee. They came before the committee to testify about the needs of much more comprehensive regulation regarding derivative markets. In 2010 Congress passed the Dodd-Frank reforms, which were partly aimed at wrangling in wild, out of control, derivative markets that aided the… Continue Reading
All aboard and full steam ahead on the Volcker Rule Train. Next stop: Final Draft. ETA: September, 2012? At least that’s what an article by Ben Protess and Peter Eavis predicts, citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the issue (a journalist’s best friend). The Dodd-Frank Bill initially set a deadline of July 2012, but there… Continue Reading
Yesterday, I took a trip across town to the U.S. District Courthouse here in Washington, DC to see the show. What show, you ask? Roger Clemens—“The Rocket,” as he’s known in baseball circles—is on trial for perjury. Yesterday was the opening act: jury selection and some evidentiary issues in the morning, supposedly followed by both… Continue Reading
In the end, the JOBS act will have its benefits and its consequences. Those who are mindful of the new risks in the investment market stand to gain from an exciting new opportunity. Unfortunately, I fear far too many consumers will fall prey to the fraudsters. As I often say, the key to consumer protection will be vigilance.
Far from the sky falling and democracy being destroyed, whistleblowers are adding value to a critical area of government enforcement and I predict over time their role will continue to grow and become an ingrained component of the SEC’s mission.
In more recent times, Wall Street banks know that a government announcement on particular policies can drastically and immediately affect stock movement. And when you can trade rapidly through a high speed modem – that spells “ka-ching”, big money. One of the latest games takes the form of lunches, meetings, and panel discussions organized by firms who will earn a commission on trades resulting from the information provided at these soirees
Is this former 5-time “Jeopardy!” champion ready to follow rock star Elizabeth Warren as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Consumers can only wait and hope for the best.
The general outlines of the budget problem are not hard to agree on. The current high levels of deficit spending were brought on almost entirely by the Great Recession and will decline as (if?) the economy grows. The real budget crunch lies down the road a few years with exploding entitlement spending–mostly in Medicare and Medicaid.
Will Republicans, heirs to, and in many cases participants in the Clinton impeachment effort, act to slow economic growth over the next two years? Their small government mantra comes ready-made with policies that can hurt the economy in the short term: large scale federal spending cuts, denying federal assistance to struggling states, curtailing unemployment benefits, attacking the independence of the Fed, and threatening and/or carrying out a government shut down being among the most obvious.
On Monday President Obama announced a compromise deal with Congressional Republicans over Bush era tax cuts. Republicans get a two-year extension of all of the Bush tax cuts and a generous recasting of the estate tax. The President gets thirteen months of extended unemployment benefits, a one-year reduction in payroll tax rates and the extension of other tax breaks and credits originally included in the 2009 stimulus package.
In many ways, the days of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed are deep in the rear view mirror. Politics is surely more transparent these days. There are many more stakeholders to be reckoned with: unions, non-profits, civil rights organizations and foundations just to name a few. But thanks in part to the Supreme Court,… Continue Reading