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OpenMarket: September 2014

  • Cyanide, Tylenol and How Free Markets Make You Safer

    September 29, 2014

    Today is the anniversary of one of the most significant food and drug related events in recent memory. Often discussed in college business classes these days, the 1982 Tylenol poisonings is usually heralded as the prime example of how companies should handle a consumer relations disaster. However, it is also a shining example of how the market itself—acting to protect its customers and thus its profits—can improve public safety. The actions that Johnson & Johnson took in the wake of this tragedy, without a doubt, improved the safety of consumers of all over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for the next 30 years.

    Within three days, beginning on September 29, 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. More than 30 years later, who committed this crime and why remains a mystery. After an investigation, it was determined that...

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 29, 2014

    A busy week ended with a flourish, with Friday’s Federal Register alone containing 28 final regulations and 542 pages.

  • Study on Artificial Sweeteners Interesting But Flawed

    September 26, 2014

    ​A new study out of Israel on the possible effects of artificial sweeteners is making a lot of headlines this week. Unfortunately (and as usual) members of the media from Forbes to NPR’s Diane Rehm are reporting on the study without taking into consideration the growing criticism of its methodology, conclusions, and prior research on the topic. As Stephen O’Rahilly, endocrinologist and head of Cambridge’s metabolic research lab put it, “It would be unfortunate if this data were to influence public...

  • Are Consumers Smart Enough to Understand Airline Ancillary Fees?

    September 25, 2014

    In May, I criticized the Department of Transportation’s opening of a rulemaking on airline ancillary fees (baggage, seat assignments, etc.), noting that the primary motivation appeared to be continued expansion of the department’s unfair and deceptive practices authority. In addition, the department’s apparent opinion that consumers are unable to understand ancillary fees, and compare fares and fees across airlines, is completely unsupported.

    Yesterday, I filed comments on behalf of CEI fleshing out some of these objections.

    To be sure, no one is advocating that airlines be permitted to deceive and defraud consumers on ancillary fees. The core of the debate...

  • The NLRB Forces CNN to Rehire Workers Terminated Over a Decade Ago

    September 23, 2014
    CNN is appealing a recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board which forces CNN to hire back workers from a temp agency known as Team Video Services (TVS) after the news giant terminated its contract with them 11 years ago.
  • CalPERS Abandons “Hail Mary” Investment Strategy – About Time

    September 22, 2014

    CalPERS knows when to fold ‘em. The California Public Employee Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund (and one of the world’s largest), announced last week that it would no longer invest in hedge funds, where it had sought larger returns in the hopes of gaining greater investment returns. It’s the right move. But it’s really only correcting a mistake, for CalPERS should have never held ‘em in the first place.

  • For Fannie and Freddie Reform, Transparency Is a Must

    September 22, 2014

    Six years after the onset of the financial crisis, another Congress has adjourned without doing anything to rein in the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) that many experts have identified as the leading cause of the mortgage meltdown. But there is some good news. It appears that a phony “reform” that would actually make things worse has died a merciful death.

    As I have written in National Review and elsewhere, the so-called Johnson-Crapo reform introduced by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee is “Fannie and Freddie on Steroids.” As I noted, “Not only would the government’s role...

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 22, 2014

    72 new regulations, from mangoes to credit ratings.

  • Victory! Redman v. Radioshack

    September 19, 2014
    CCAF won a tremendous victory for class members in Redman v. Radioshack, just eleven days after oral argument!

    Judge Richard Posner, a legal authority renowned worldwide, wrote an excellent and accessible opinion, explaining that class action plaintiffs' attorneys' fees must be proportionate to the benefit they've realized for their clients, and that a coupon is a coupon regardless of the percentage discount that it represents.

    You can read more about the underlying case here. The oral argument...
  • Billionaire Diversity: Foreign vs. Domestic

    September 17, 2014

    Brookings Institution scholar Darrell West, whose new book Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust is being released later this week, has another intriguing graphic on the political influence of the extremely wealthy. Last week Brookings posted an interactive grid of the top players in domestic politics, the U.S. Billionaire Political Power Index. This ranking put Charles and David Koch predictably at #1, but followed by Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund manager/global warming activist Tom Steyer, with the likes of George Soros, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and Alice Walton filling out the rest of the list. As I pointed out...

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