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governing for the rich November 19, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

Naked Capitalism explains how banks are ensuring they won’t be subject to the Basel 3 tougher capital rules despite public pronouncements by the G20 that they would implement reforms to financial regulation. And the Financial Stability Board has only published peer reviews of implementation of transnational standards for 6 countries so far – the last reports were published in January 2012. These are the reports that are supposed to keep the G20 countries honest about implementation.

Part of the story that’s being sold is about how all of the new rules are going to make it harder for consumers to borrow money. But (too) easy credit was part of the problem.

Meanwhile, David Cameron (speaking to the CBI) says he wants to stop people going to court to challenge what the government is doing. The press has been reporting this aspect of the speech. Making it more expensive to initiate judicial review is part of the idea. Cameron says the point of this is “to make people think twice about time-wasting.” But it also means it will be harder for those with fewer resources to challenge government than for those with greater resources. The rich can do as much time-wasting as they like (provided they act quickly). Of course, speedy action is also easier for those with more resources.

But Cameron also wants to limit consultation:

Consultations, impact assessments, audits, reviews, stakeholder management, securing professional buy-in, complying with EU procurement rules, assessing sector feedback this is not how we became one of the most powerful, prosperous nations on earth.

I think becoming one of the most powerful and prosperous nations on earth had something to do with invading countries far away and exploiting the people who lived there.

It’s not an accident he gave this speech to the CBI, because the whole message is about promoting business. And we can be sure that banks and other large businesses will continue to have the access necessary to make their views known.

eesc on participatory democracy November 15, 2012

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From the press release:

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for the full implementation of Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty as a means to strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU and avoiding the rise of extremism in Europe. Investing in Article 11 will help bring citizens closer to the EU project and provide the platform for the institutions to listen and better take into account the views of its citizens. The EESC should be a key player in this process.

The opinion should be available from this page.

mid-week medley November 14, 2012

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SEC and DOJ publish a Guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the SEC publishes a Small Entity Compliance Guide to Conflict Minerals Disclosure. FSA consults on Implementation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. EBA consults on prudent valuation.

The European Commission proposes legislation to increase the number of women on corporate boards (because non-binding approaches have not worked) (details here):

The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively. Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives at national and European level, the situation has not changed significantly in recent years: an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003.

Viviane Reding says it is a “historic day for gender equality.” Why a targetof 40% represents equality, I am not sure.

The EU has set up a competition for young people (8-24) to go to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

culture of banking November 13, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

From Michael Cohrs, a member of the Financial Policy Committee at the Bank of England, in a speech today, a reminder of why it is that the culture of banking matters:

Reading, in one case, about traders shouting across the floor to submitters asking them to submit preferential rates, has shocked most people. The cultural problem seems to have extended from the trading floor right through middle management to senior management. There looks to have been an inadequate response from both the executive officers and the Board of Directors. It is not clear to me that the shareholders were very concerned once the news broke. This incident and others, primarily relating to conduct related issues, show just how much work there is to do to create financial institutions with a culture of producing the best product possible and caring for the client’s interests first.

As I read comment letters submitted in consultations by financial firms and trade associations and notice the common references to the best interests of consumers I do wonder why policy-makers would take such comments seriously.

jotwell: review of kraus and raso November 13, 2012

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I reviewed Bruce R. Kraus & Connor Raso’s article on Rational Boundaries for SEC Cost-Benefit Analysis in Jotwell.

brian eno and ha-joon chang November 11, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : life , add a comment

The Guardian brought these two together and the resulting discussion is fascinating. Both focus on the space between control and chaos in art and in economics.

Brian Eno says:

Quantification is a big temptation for society because it looks like control.

Ha-Joon Chang responds:

People tend to think that numbers are quite objective, but numbers in economics are not like this. Some economists say they’re like sausages: you don’t know what they really are until you cut into them. Once you know, you become very sceptical …
I’m not against numbers. You need some numbers, to work with. Life would be impossible otherwise. But we’ve made these numbers into fetishes.