Category Archives: finance

A farewell to smarm

I have to admit that I wrote this post mostly so I could to link to a Rand Corp. report named with an awful play on a Hemingway book title. Yes, gird yourself, here it comes: For Whom the Whistle Blows. And I truly do not recommend that you plow through the entire report, which is written with all the panache for which Rand prose is famous. No Robert Jordan or his rabbit in the rucksack here.

Still, the report does offer a nice reminder of one good thing that came out of the Obama administration’s reaction to the 2008-09 financial meltdown, which is this:

In July 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a lengthy statute that included a new mechanism for offering bounties to internal corporate “whistleblowers” who report instances of fraud to the SEC. Under the statute, such whistleblowers are entitled to an award (or “bounty”) of between 10 and 30 percent of any penalties or fees imposed in amounts greater than $1 million. … Perhaps the single most contentious feature of the new Dodd-Frank whistleblower regime is that the rules do not require that a corporate insider first make use of his or her company’s internal reporting channels as a prerequisite for access to the SEC and any potential award under Dodd-Frank.

Giving insiders a cut of the recovery if they rat out big-time, white-collar crooks is good, smart policy. So I suppose Rand’s focus on the poor, poor corporate leaders who will no longer be able to keep whistleblowers in-house, where they can be tortured and discredited more directly and efficiently than might be possible if they get to the SEC first, might irritate some of you. I just found it humorous, and a good sign that the plutocrats are scared of a law that, if it is to work to keep the investment banking industry from bankrupting the world, needs to be very, very scary to plutocrats.

Oh, about that “farewell” in my headline: I do indeed promise to refrain from Hemingway puns and wordplay. For at least a month.

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Filed under corruption, finance

The debt: tax cuts and war

If you haven’t seen these charts and lean even slightly toward the Tea Party point of view, you ought to take a look. The American deficit-debt problem is largely not a result of stimulus efforts to combat a looming global financial meltdown. The problem is almost wholly composed of tax cuts for the wealthy, the economic downturn and the cost of war. Just a fact, and conveyed well by these charts, provided by The Atlantic‘s inimitable Jim Fallows.

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Felix the financial cat

If you are lucky enough to have enough money to have hired a financial adviser, you ought to read this Felix Salmon post, which nicely explains the many little bites of your money that an FA can take, almost imperceptibly. (Actually, if you’re interested in finance, you ought to read Felix all the time; you can call what he writes a blog, but it’s a blog based on a breathtaking amount of reportage and activity. Sometimes I wonder whether he’s cloned himself, perhaps more than once.) At the end of the day, a financial adviser ought to make you enough money that the fees he charges are an afterthought. But that’s seldom, seldom the case, this writer wrote, remembering with something less than fondness some financial things past….

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Filed under banking, Felix Salmon, finance, Reuters