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america saves week February 26, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : financial education , add a comment

This is America Saves Week:

an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status. Typically thousands of organizations participate in the Week, reaching millions of people.

The Consumer Federation of America, which manages the campaign, released data showing that the financial condition of American families has not improved in the last year. But saving isn’t easy. Even if people can find money to save they won’t earn good rates of interest:one website describes the 1% savings account rate as “the unicorn of banking”.

But not everyone is working hard to encourage savings: Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey’s Internet Gaming Bill today.

cameron on mantel on kate February 19, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : truth , add a comment

The whole kerfuffle really just shows how perceptive Mantel is:

BBC News devoted a discussion to whether a pregnant woman could safely put on a turn of speed while wearing high heels. It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken. And in the same way one is compelled to look at them: to ask what they are made of, and is their substance the same as ours.

To criticize Mantel for her comments as if they are criticisms of Kate Middleton is to miss the point. It’s the rest of us she is criticizing:

Cheerful curiosity can easily become cruelty. It can easily become fatal. We don’t cut off the heads of royal ladies these days, but we do sacrifice them, and we did memorably drive one to destruction a scant generation ago. History makes fools of us, makes puppets of us, often enough. But it doesn’t have to repeat itself. In the current case, much lies within our control. I’m not asking for censorship. I’m not asking for pious humbug and smarmy reverence. I’m asking us to back off and not be brutes.

posner and the highwaymen February 11, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : law , add a comment

Judge Posner likes the highwayman’s case, Everet v Williams. One highwayman sued his partner for his share of the ill-gotten gains of the enterprise. The court refused to help him out. Judge Posner cited the case in SEC v Lyttle in 2008 to reject claims by defendants in a securities case who argued that they themselves had been defrauded by another participant in the scheme (a defense Judge Posner characterized as ‘the “honor among thieves” defense’:

Their second defense is that Eldridge defrauded them, as shown by the fact that she pocketed the lion’s share of the $ 32 million stolen from the investors. The defendants, however, pocketed almost $9 million, and even if Eldridge took more than her fair share of the loot, that would not exonerate them. One is reminded of the high-wayman’s case. Everet v. Williams…One highwayman sued another, claiming that he was entitled to a larger share of the loot from a series of joint robberies. The suit was dismissed, both were hanged, and the plaintiff’s lawyers were fined for having brought a suit “both scandalous and impertinent.”

Last year he referred to the case in Schlueter v. Latek as the classic illustration for the following principle:

The common law teaches that if the opposing parties in a lawsuit are equally in the wrong and as a result neither has a colorable claim against the other—more precisely, if awarding relief to the plaintiff would reward wrongdoing—courts will not adjudicate their dispute.

And last week the case turned up again in Thomas v UBS. Clients of UBS sought to sue UBS for its failures to prevent them from breaching US tax law. Judge Posner does not like this claim:

This is like suing one’s parents to recover tax penalties one has paid, on the ground that the parents had failed to bring one up to be an honest person who would not evade taxes and so would not subject himself to penalties.

And then he gets to the highwaymen:

There is in general no common law duty to prevent another person from violating the law. At worst, UBS, as we’re about to see, violated an agreement with the IRS designed to prevent the kind of evasion that the plaintiffs engaged in. That might conceivably make UBS an aider or abettor of the plaintiffs’s tax evasion and so make this case a distant relative to Everet v. Williams … A highwayman had sued his partner in crime for an accounting of the illegal profits of their criminal activity. The court refused to adjudicate the case, and both parties were hanged. Minus the hanging and with certain exceptions (such as contribution and indemnity) irrelevant to this case, the principle enunciated in The Highwayman’s Case applies to accomplices in civil wrongdoing, as noted in our recent decision in Schlueter v. Latek… In The Highwayman’s Case one accomplice was seeking a bigger share of the profit from the crime from the other one; here one accomplice is seeking a smaller share of the costs of the crime from the other one. The principle is the same; the law leaves the quarreling accomplices where it finds them.

rbs libor settlements February 6, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

The CFTC announced that Royal Bank of Scotland plc and RBS Securities Japan Limited will pay $325 million to settle charges of manipulation, attempted manipulation and false reporting of yen and Swiss franc LIBOR (see order here). The UK FSA announced it had fined Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) £87.5 million for misconduct relating to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (Final Notice here).

does including the term “chateau” in the name of wines produced in the us actually mislead anyone? February 6, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : truth , add a comment

Members of the European Parliament will be debating this issue today:

Does the Commission plan to allow “Château” or “Clos” labels to be used on US wines sold in the EU? In the EU, these terms mean that the wine was made from grapes grown in a single vineyard. In the US, they may be used generically, on any wine label.

sovereign debt, banks etc February 5, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : events , add a comment

I am going to the Texas International Law Journal symposium on The Nation State and its Banks this week. I’ll be talking about this early draft paper: Breaking Up is Hard to Do: The Interconnection Problem in Financial Markets and Financial Regulation, A European (Banking) Union Perspective.