I realize the SEC’s task is a gargantuan one, especially considering the severely constrained resources, but there’s just no excuse for things like this. The SEC’s Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation – the group created in 2009 to supposedly "enhance our capabilities and help identify developing risks and trends in the financial markets" – does not have anyone running the Office of Data & Data Analytics. How the hell is the Division supposed to do its job if there’s no one analyzing data?!?!?
I’d say to be fair, this website hasn’t been updated since 6/15/2010, but that actually makes this situation WORSE. How dysfunctional does an organization have to be that organization actions are not properly communicated via press releases and modifications to the organization’s website? This is not freaking rocket science!
If you think this is bad, get read, because it gets even worse: The head of the Division, Henry T. C. Hu left this month to go back to academia. According to an article from 1/20/2011 in the WSJ, his temporary replacement is the Division’s former Deputy Director, Jonathan Sobokin. The SEC issued a press release on 11/18/2010 that Hu would be leaving the organization, yet the "News" page of the Division’s website has no mention of Sobokin taking the reins. As a matter of fact, that is the most recent press release that appears on the page!
It’s one thing to suck at organizational communications, its another thing to take at least two months to find a replacement for a very important position, especially when given what appears to be advance notice. And it is another thing entirely to take well over a year to staff the Office tasked with performing the data analysis the Division needs in order to be effective!
The only good thing I can say here is that at least they brought Rick Bookstaber into the fold. I’ve met Rick and he’s a very, very smart man, and while I don’t always agree with him, I’m quite glad he’s at the SEC. Whether or not he has any authority or sway within the SEC is a whole different story upon which I can do little more than speculate…
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."
Mr. President, you’re a lying sack of crap.
Nor is this theoretical either. Fox News has already had an FOIA denied:
The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network.
Oh, by the way, this would mean that a Madoff or Stanford "thing" would leave the SEC immune from FOIA requests by the Press (including the "mainstream" along with media folks like myself) to discover whether they had effective and early notice that they intentionally ignored.
Isn’t that convenient, given that they did exactly that with Madoff and, it can be argued, Stanford as well?
Indeed, the SEC, The Fed, and Treasury have all tried to refuse compliance with FOIA requests into the backstories of the financial meltdown.
FOIA requests that could (and in some cases have, when they were forced to be complied with via lawsuits) reveal double-dealing, "sweetheart" treatment, and even willful blindness that, in many people’s opinion (including mine) reaches the level of intentional collusion that, in a private context, would lead to civil and/or criminal racketeering charges.
To President Obama and CONgress for sticking this in FinReg (and yeah, I missed it, even though I read the entire damn thing):
Now that Obama has signed FinReg into law, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal appeared on The Breakdown with Chris Hayes yesterday to discuss the bill. Confused about the entire financial meltdown? Mike’s got you covered. He breaks the crisis down into four interconnected sectors: an exploitative, under-regulated system of consumer finance; dark markets in derivatives; the failures of “too big to fail” banks and the ripple effects they caused; and shadow banks that were able to avoid regulations (and also lacking, as Mike says, the “toilet training” necessary to behave).
These four sectors will also be the basis used for grading the potency of the bill. And as Mike notes, while it offers opportunities for some much-needed changes, it still falls short in several areas.
FinReg may fall short if power is channeled into Geithner’s hands.
More depressing news from the “change” President. The Washington Post has reported that one of the major impacts of the FinReg bill passed last week by Congress is the accretion of new power to Obama’s Treasury Secretary. According to the Post, Tim Geithner stands to inherit vast power to shape bank regulations, oversee financial markets and create a consumer protection agency.
Make no mistake: this is Timmy’s bill, plain and simple, as the Post makes clear: “The bill not only hews closely to the initial draft he released last summer but also anoints him — as long as he remains Treasury secretary — as the chief of a new council of senior regulators.”
The Geithner Treasury repeatedly pushed back against many sensible legislative proposals that would have made significant structural changes to practices that brought about the current economic crisis. And the article itself represents latest in a series of attempts to embellish the Treasury Secretary’s hagiography.
Reading it, one wonders whether the Washington Post inhabits a strange parallel universe. Have the writers actually paid attention to what is truly happening in the economy? The WaPo persists in towing the party line that Geithner’s tenure has been marked with conspicuous success, supposedly by advocating a response to the financial crisis that allegedly later proved correct: “Geithner vigorously resisted calls by some lawmakers and financial experts to nationalize the nation’s largest and most troubled banks during the most perilous days. Instead, he helped get the financial system back on its feet, in particular by pressing for stress tests of big banks.” (my emphasis)
Oh, really? I would argue that Washington continues to allow the big banks to operate “business as usual” and to cook the books to show profits so that they can pay out big bonuses to the geniuses who created the toxic waste that brought on the crisis. Most continue to show profits based not on fundamentally health lending activity, but one-off gains, and accounting gimmickry. Commenting on the latest JP Morgan results, my friend and colleague Randy Wray has noted:
Add Julian Robertson and Howard Marks to the long list of billionaires that are less than optimistic about the future. All the reasons they cite are unfortunately very compelling, but pessimists always sound intelligent. You can probably count on one hand the number of investors that were actually able to capitalize on their pessimism.
But let’s say all these billionaires are right and U.S. stocks will in fact experience lower returns going forward. A good strategy would be to have your rate of investment outpace the return on your investment. As an example, let’s say you’ve saved some money and have $10,000 to invest. An...
With stunned investors reliving memories of the 2008 crisis as Deutsche Bank, a bank that is half the size of its host, Germany, seemingly on the precipice, and with Angela Merkel vowing as recently as this weekend not to bailout the bank, the market felt paralyzed: should it BTFD as it always has every time in the past 7 years, or should it wait for more clarity from the bailouters-in-chief before allocating capital to another riskless transaction, which may well be the next Lehman brothers.
By JOHN F. BANZHAF. Originally published at ValueWalk.
Fear of Election Fraud Growing – Millions to Stay Home
Warnings by Banzhaf and Others of Election Hacking Affecting Voters
According to a new study, more than 15 million registered voters may not vote for president because of concerns about cyber hacking, with a majority believing that electronic voting machines involved in the presidential election could be hacked.
This dramatic change in attitude – since there have never been indications in previous elections of voting machines being tampered with – came about as a result of two recent demonstrations by professors about how...
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said the central bank is nearing its goals of maximum employment and steady inflation near 2 percent, leaving the economy primed for an increase in borrowing costs.
In early 2009, the seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion. Today, they’ve been all but wiped out.
When Barack Obama took office, America’s seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion, with more than 815,000 students enrolled at campuses spread across the country. The schools were flooded with with people seeking shelter from the recession, returning to school to pick up new skills.
Almost eight years later, the industry has been decimated. The seven largest listed operators are worth just over $6 billion, and the most valuable co...
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Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer. One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."
Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.
Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.' Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color). Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...
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