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OpenMarket: October 2013

  • Questions for Janet Yellen

    October 29, 2013
    Even if it is nominally independent, the Federal Reserve is arguably the government's most important agency. It has control over the price system, the most fundamental part of any economy. It also exercises significant power over the banking sector, and in recent years has taken to doing large favors for Wall Street. These are all reasons why Janet Yellen's nomination for Fed Chair needs to be carefully vetted. To that end, my CEI colleagues John Berlau and Iain Murray and I put together some questions about several facets of the Fed's mission we would like to Yellen answer, whether during her confirmation hearing or elsewhere. You can read the short WebMemo here. Here is one of our questions about inflation:
    Many observers expect you to pursue an inflationary stimulus, and believe this is...
  • Racial Preferences in Obamacare, and Discrimination, Too, Based on Weird Ideology

    October 29, 2013
    Obama RacineThe Daily Caller has an interesting story about race-conscious provisions and racial preferences contained in Obamacare. It's a subject that has received remarkably little attention, even though the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded back in 2009 that the healthcare bill was racially discriminatory, in two ways. First, the law is filled with “sections that factor in race when awarding billions in...
  • An Alarmist Vocabulary: Chemical Is "Linked To," "Study Suggests," "Consistent With"

    October 28, 2013
    scrabbleHeadlines continue to appear to claiming that a recent study has shown that the chemical bisphenol A increases the risk of miscarriage, which I addressed in a Forbes article last week. There are many problems with this research, such as the fact that it is not available in a published, peer-reviewed format. Check out my piece here for more details. This issue raises a bigger concern about the state of science today, particularly when the research is related to chemical safety. Reliance on hard facts, scientific standards, and cautious conclusions seems to be withering away. Even well-schooled...
  • Racial Preferences and Red Tape Grow Under Federal Dodd-Frank Act

    October 28, 2013
    Last Friday on National Review's The Corner, Roger Clegg wrote about the 2010 law governing the financial sector, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the racial "diversity quotas" that may come into being under a proposed regulation to implement that legislation:
    Today a number of Obama administration agencies with financial-sector regulatory responsibilities have jointly published in the Federal Register a proposed “Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Entities Regulated by the Agencies.”  The statement comes as a result of Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank legislation, which requires these agencies each to “establish an Office of...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    October 28, 2013
    78 new regulations, from energy-efficient urinals to interstate turtle requirements.
  • Contradictory Financial Regulations Cause Problems

    October 25, 2013
    It's a case of "When Regulations Collide." As we've seen in the energy field, contradictory regulations cost jobs as employers struggle to comply with legal requirements that tell them to do one thing on the one hand and the opposite on the other. Now we're seeing another example in the field of financial regulation, as regulators face a dilemma between state rules and supranational rules known as Basel III. The issue in question relates to regulations over a bank's Liquidity Capital Ratio (LQR). At one point ratios such as this were helpful tools for investors to judge the health of a company. These days, they are the subject of regulations. The LQR will be a requirement for a certain amount of liquid capital to be held by a...
  • Glitches and Errors Widespread on Obamacare Health Insurance Website

    October 25, 2013
    In addition to the Obamacare web site glitches that left people unable to purchase insurance despite hours or days of trying, the website dramatically understates health insurance costs, note CBS News and websites such as Liberty Unyielding:
    CBS News has investigated the new feature at Healthcare.gov which allows consumers to see the offered insurance plans without registering. Its reporters found that the pricing displayed dramatically underestimates the actual cost of the plans. According to CBS, the new “shop and browse”...
  • CEI Podcast for October 24, 2013: The Social Cost of Carbon

    October 24, 2013
    Like anything else, carbon emissions have both costs and benefits. Marlo Lewis, a Senior Fellow in CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, discusses a new study finding that the carbon debate has some nuance to it, after all.
  • Alcohol Crimes Decline in Washington After Liquor Sales Privatization

    October 24, 2013
    liquorIn the lead up to Washington State voters approving privatization of liquor sales in the state, opponents claimed—as they always do—that the increased availability and lower prices would undoubtedly result in increased rates of crime, alcohol-related auto accidents, and greater numbers of minors having access to alcohol. The number of outlets in the state has soared (consumers can now buy liquor at more than 1,600 retailers compared to 329 state-run and rural contract stores before) and while there were some reports that liquor thefts might have increased, according to the Washington State Patrol, most alcohol-related...
  • The Implications of Kludgeocracy

    October 24, 2013
    Steven Teles tells us in the fall issue of National Affairs that over the next decades, the challenge of "kludgeocracy" will come to the forefront of national politics:
    In recent decades, American politics has been dominated, at least rhetorically, by a battle over the size of government. But that is not what the next few decades of our politics will be about. With the frontiers of the state roughly fixed, the issues that will define our major debates will concern the complexity of government, rather than its sheer scope.
    Teles is certainly right that the underappreciated costs to our economy of administrative complexity and regulatory compliance ought receive more attention in spending debates. The first step is to think about regulation as a form of government...

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