Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Regulatory Agencies

The Feds are trying to regulate the Bitcoin – good luck

Senators attending this week’s hearing entitled “Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies” being held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee already knew what they were going to hear: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was going to make the case that

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When the Free Market is allowed to Flourish, It Does

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 1st, 2013:

When the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) was signed into law in April 2012, it was designed to create a “regulatory exemption” for crowd funded securities – a crack in the 6-inch thick slab of concrete the government regulatory agencies are determined to pave over every manner of entrepreneurial activity in the country – so that entrepreneurs could meet with capital largely free of regulations under Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other noxious restrictions on freedom.

It was highly controversial at the time, with the New York Times leading the way in an article entitled

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50 years of Federal Regulations have Reduced Americans’ Standard of Living by 75 percent

The 20th annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) last month announced the arrival of an unhappy milestone: regulatory costs now amount to more than half of all federal spending. Put another way, the real cost of government in the United States is

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More than Executive Orders Needed to Reign in Regulators

The Executive Order issued by President Obama last week, “Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens,” made it sound as if the reality of crushing regulatory burdens was at long last being recognized as part of the cause of the sluggish economy. Said the order:

Regulations play an indispensable role in protecting public health, welfare, safety, and our environment, but they can also impose significant burdens and costs. During challenging economic times, we should be especially careful not to impose unjustified regulatory requirements.

His order then went on to state that “our regulatory system must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements… [through] periodic review of existing significant regulations.” Since his previous Executive Order issued in January 2011 agencies have already identified over five hundred “initiatives” that are supposed to save “billions of dollars in regulatory costs and tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens.”

Cass Sunstein, the head of one of those regulatory agencies, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs—the “regulator of the regulators” so to speak—touted some of the burdens that allegedly have already

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JPMorgan Chase’s $2 Billion Trading Loss Results in Calls for More Regulation

Jamie Dimon - Caricature

Last week’s revelation by JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon that the bank’s trading desk has suffered a $2 billion loss was followed on Monday by the resignation of three key players involved in the trade that went bad. The Chief Investment Office (CIO), Ina Drew, along with two of her associates, announced their retirements from the bank.

It was just two months ago that questions about risky trades being undertaken at JPM were passed off by Dimon as a “tempest in a teapot,” but on Sunday, on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dimon admitted that he “was dead wrong” and added:

We made a terrible, egregious mistake. There’s almost no excuse for it. [We] hurt ourselves and our  credibility [and expect to] pay the price for that.

Dimon and JPM are used to paying the price for their past errors and misdeeds. In December 2002, the bank paid $80 million as part of a $1.4 billion settlement involving 10 banks that deceived investors with biased research.

In 2003, the bank paid more than $2 billion in fines and settlements to investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their role in fraudulently financing Enron Corporation that collapsed in 2001.

In March 2005, the bank paid another $2 billion following its involvement in underwriting some $15 billion of WorldCom’s bonds.

There’s more: In November 2009, JPM agreed to a $722 million settlement with the SEC over their involvement in a “pay to play” scheme where Jefferson County, Alabama, was brought to the brink of bankruptcy through fraud and excessive fees to be charged on refinancing the county’s sewer bonds.

And more: In January 2011, JPM admitted that it deliberately overcharged some 6,000 active-duty military families for their mortgages and illegally foreclosed on 18 of those families. At the time Dimon apologized for the “error” and sent one of his associates, chief lending officer Dave Lowman, packing.

Dimon was deliberately opaque in discussing the trade that went sour, saying only that it came from trading in derivatives that were designed to

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As Regulations Strangle the Economy, History Provides an Alternative

Small Steps Toward Deregulation

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint sessi...

Because of disappointment over the economy’s rate of recovery which appeared to be confirmed by the March jobs numbers coming in at half the rate expected, the House is making efforts to roll back regulations that are said to be inhibiting the recovery.

The Wall Street Journal explained that, although the jobless rate edged down in March from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent, “that decline was due less to new hiring than people abandoning their job searches.” Indeed, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve a record 88 million people are “not in the labor force,” up from 60 million in the early 1980s.

Regulations emanating from regulatory agencies have turned into a veritable waterfall under the Obama administration, forcing the White House last summer to promise to “review hundreds of regulations that could get streamlined or scrapped in response to criticism from the GOP and business that burdensome rules are holding back the economy.”

Writing at The New American, William Hoar noted that, even if such a review actually took place and then resulted in any kind of rollback of regulations, it would amount to no more than “a speed bump for the diktaks racing out of Washington.” In fact, the White House is a significant part of the problem. Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA) noted that since Obamacare became law it has grown from a 2000-page bill to more than 6,000 pages of regulations in the Federal Register.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) got so exasperated with the regulations threatening to asphyxiate the economy that he announced plans to introduce legislation to abolish every

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Big Banks Oppose Volcker Rule, Urge Delay in Implementing It

President Barack Obamaa, flanked by Paul Volck...

The deadline for comments on the proposed Volcker Rule was Monday night and hundreds, if not thousands, of letters arrived at the last minute to rail against the rule, mostly from Wall Street. The Volcker Rule — which would prohibit banks from trading with their own money — was proposed last summer by former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, who said in a letter to President Obama that they shouldn’t be gambling with money guaranteed by the taxpayers. Big losses by government-backed banks that were trading in risky securities such as mortgage-backed assets precipitated the financial crisis in 2008 and set up the need for federal bailouts of those banks.

The idea behind the rule is simple: Prohibit banks from making “proprietary trades” that are unrelated to traditional banking practices such as making loans and clearing checks. Putting such rules down on paper however is proving to be daunting and giving the banks affected a chance to buy some time.

Volcker’s letter to President Obama was three pages long. The rule incorporated into the Dodd-Frank act was 10 pages long. By the time the four regulatory agencies empowered to oversee its implementation — the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — got done with it, the Volcker Rule encompassed 298 pages.

The public comment period started when the FDIC signed onto the bill on October 11, and ended Monday, February 13 at midnight. The draft offered for comment contained 1,300 questions on 400 topics so that the agencies would be able to “discern” the right, proper, and appropriate course of action to take with the final draft. Implementation of the Volcker Rule is scheduled for July. This gave the banks a perfect opportunity to delay the whole process by complaining among other things that the bill is far too complicated for the banks to be able to comply by then.

As of Monday the SEC had already received over 14,000 letters, at least one of them 365 pages long. Some attempted to respond to all 1,300 questions with answers of their own while others posed new questions and offered significant revisions to the bill’s language.

But that was Monday. By midnight another 200 letters from the primary target of the bill—Wall Street banks and investment houses—were expected. Lawyers representing Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup as well as the trade group itself, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), spent the weekend holed up in hotels in downtown Manhattan cranking out long and detailed responses to the proposed bill.

The strategy is clear: Delay the matter until after the elections when the entire game could change, including the need to reintroduce the legislation for congressional and presidential review, probably with many new faces perhaps more favorable to tabling the matter altogether. Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a nonprofit pro-regulation group, said, “It’s part of their ongoing strategy—if you can’t kill the

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Regulatory Agencies Continue to Slow the Economy

English: The western front of the United State...

In a recent editorial entitled “Regulation without Representation,” Investors Business Daily pointed out that a new federal rule or regulation is published every two hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But most of them escape the notice of Congress. Congress itself passes fewer than 200 in each session, the rest are promulgated by agencies in the Executive Branch in contravention of explicit instructions in the Constitution. In a landmark study prepared for the Small Business Administration (SBA), Nicole and Mark Crain (pictured at left), economists at Lafayette College, counted the cost and concluded that regulations cost the American economy more than half the federal budget and even more than the annual deficit: an astounding $1.75 trillion annually. And most of those costs land squarely on small businesses with fewer than 20 employees — the very engine that drives the economy, or doesn’t. According to the authors, the regulatory burden on a small business in 2008 exceeded $10,000 per employee! When that burden is translated into the burden on the ultimate consuming household — recognizing that all costs are ultimately paid by the consumer, directly or indirectly — the burden exceeds $15,000 a year. And that is using data from 2008. When the total federal burden, both regulatory and fiscal, is calculated, the average household in America is saddled with costs approaching $40,000 a year. Here is how such regulation works: Administrative law, according to Wikipedia “exists because the Congress often grants broad authority to Executive branch agencies to interpret the statutes…which the agencies are entrusted with enforcing.” Wiki explains:

Congress may be too busy, congested, or gridlocked to micromanage the jurisdiction of those agencies by writing statues that cover every possible detail, or Congress may determine that the technical specialists at the agency are best equipped to develop detailed applications of statutes to particular facts as they arise.

And that is crux of the matter. Under the Constitution (Article I, Section 1), “all legislative powers herein contained shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Nowhere is power granted in the Constitution for said Congress to “grant broad authority to Executive branch agencies,” but there it is: an entire Fourth Branch of government that has sprung up out of

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Germany’s Merkel Yields More Sovereignty to the EU

EPP Summit Helsinki 4 March 2011

At a joint briefing on Wednesday with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the next step towards the creation of the supra-national European state: “Germany sees the need…to show the markets and the world public that the euro will remain together, that the euro must be defended, but also that we are prepared to give up a little bit of national sovereignty…” It must be done, she said, so that the euro is “strong and inspires confidence on international markets.”

This could be done through changes in the Lisbon Treaty that comprises the basis for the European Union, or more likely through the signing into law the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) by December 31, 2012. Merkel explained that, either way, this would allow for “an intervention and oversight role in respect of the preparation of national budgets…” among the member states.

This would represent the culmination of more than 60 years of efforts by the Bilderberg Group with the help of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), David Rockefeller, and funding of the effort by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Joseph Retinger, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group in 1954, was also one of the principal architects of the European Common Market. As early as 1946, in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), the British counterpart of the CFR, Retinger said that Europe needed to create a federal union and that it would be necessary for the European countries to “relinquish part of their national sovereignty” to secure it. As noted by Andrew Gavin Marshall, research associate for the Centre for Research on Globalization, the effort to create the dictatorship of Europe goes back many years and is the creation of many hands: 

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Big Banks Gamble on Derivatives at Taxpayers’ Risk

Risk Tournament

When Bank of America announced that it was moving its derivatives-laden portfolio at its subsidiary Merrill Lynch over to its bank holding company, it said it was merely responding to pressure from some of its partners to take advantage of the holding company’s higher credit rating. It would also reduce the need for the bank to post an additional $3.3 billion in collateral because of the recent downgrade it suffered at the hands of Moody’s last month.

But the real reason, according to Bloomberg, is that the FDIC insures the bank but not Merrill Lynch, and in the event of a failure in

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The Republicans’ New Jobs Through Growth Act

job - Me gustas tu

Following the Senate’s rejection of President Obama’s jobs bill on Tuesday, Senate Republicans have offered their own jobs bill, The Jobs Through Growth Actas an alternative. Presented by Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), the bill is designed to defuse the President’s charge that the Republicans had no plan of their own as well as offer different approaches to stimulating job growth. Said Paul, “We simply cannot look to the failed policies of the last two years for an example of how to grow our economy and create jobs. More government spending and excessive regulation are the problem, not the solution. We have spent too long increasing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators, instead of allowing them to operate more freely and create more jobs.”

McCain said “We just thought it was time to put this all into a package. I will freely admit to you that part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal,” while Portman called it “a pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs…as opposed to the short-term sweetener approach of the Obama administration that simply hasn’t worked.” According to McCain, most Senate Republicans have

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Is Rogue Trader Taking a Fall for Corrupt UBS?

UBS sign featuring logo including three keys

Image via Wikipedia

Swiss bank UBS trader Kweku Adoboli was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with two counts of false accounting and one count of “suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.”  His position was director of the Delta One trading desk at UBS in London, where he had worked as a trader for the past three years and as a technical advisor for two years before that.

The desk specializes in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which allow investors to take a position in an index without having to purchase each stock represented by that index. Trades were profitable when positions were taken that move higher (long) and the index rises, or that move lower (short) and the index declines. Adoboli had learned the system well, and he lived well, paying

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10,000 Commandments—The Hidden Tax

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

When the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) announced the conclusions of its annual “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State” earlier this week, it came as no surprise to learn that the rules and regulations placed on the economy by illicit agencies of the “fourth branch of government” constitute an enormous burden that is largely uncounted.

What was surprising was the horrendous cost of that burden which constitutes an additional tax on the economy.

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Financial Reform: Pressing On, Regardless

Bob Corker

Image via Wikipedia

Last month, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) pushed back against the Obama administration’s plans to create a “standalone” Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and some Washington-watchers held their breath to see if Corker would hold his ground.

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Bernanke: Lax Oversight Recession’s Cause

FRANKFURT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14:  Ben Bernank...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Regulatory failures and not low interest rates were responsible for the housing bubble, implosion and current recession, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke asserted on Sunday.

“Stronger regulation and supervision aimed at problems with underwriting practices and lender’s risk management would have been…more effective [in] constraining the housing bubble [rather] than a general increase in interest rates,” Bernanke told the American Economic Association.  Bernanke, while awaiting Senate confirmation for another term as Fed Chairman, defended recent and continuing charges that the Fed contributed significantly to the current financial crisis by keeping interest rates too low for too long.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.

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