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OpenMarket: September 2014

  • You're a SIFI, Charlie Brown

    September 5, 2014

    “Good grief!”

    That’s what the Charlie Brown, star of comic strip Peanuts and cartoon spokesman for the MetLife insurance firm, might say about the government’s actions against MetLife yesterday.

    The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), an unaccountable, secretive task force of financial bureaucrats created by the Dodd-Frank “financial reform” bill that was rammed through a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010. Yesterday, FSOC designated MetLife as a “systemically important financial institution” or SIFI. This means that the federal government officially considers MetLife to be “too big to fail” and subject to the same Dodd-Frank bailout regime set up for banks.

    Many firms would see being tagged as a too-big-to-fail SIFI as a blessing. As CEI argues in our constitutional challenge to the FSOC, part of our ...

  • Feds Apply Double Standards against Private Employers

    September 4, 2014

    Government contractors could face a financial death sentence over labor law, civil-rights law, or wage-and-hour law violations under a recent Obama executive order I discussed earlier, EO #13673. By contrast, Federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau often face little penalty for violating the law. 

    Minority employees at the CFPB allege pervasive discrimination there, reports the Washington Times. The discrimination itself is unproven, but it seems clear that minority employees have been subjected to retaliation for speaking out about what they perceive as discrimination. Such...

  • Ex-Im Update

    September 3, 2014

    Congress comes back from its annual August recess next week. One of the top items on its agenda is deciding the Export-Import Bank’s fate. Ex-Im subsidizes financing for U.S. exporters and their foreign customers. As I outlined here, Ex-Im subsidizes certain businesses at others’ expense. It is a pro-business policy, when what the economy needs are pro-market policies. Ex-Im will also be forced to shut its doors unless Congress reauthorizes its charter by the end of September, making for a golden reform opportunity for corporate welfare opponents.

    The merits of the issue are clear enough, but politics is getting in the way. A bill to reauthorizes Ex-Im’s charter would likely pass the Senate, but would have trouble getting through the House. This would ordinarily...

  • Oetting v. Green Jacobson / Oral argument September 10 in 8th Circuit on cy pres

    September 3, 2014
    Bank of America settled a nationwide securities class action in the E.D. Mo. for hundreds of millions of dollars. For some reason, the district court judge ordered that $2 million or so of the settlement fund not be distributed immediately. By a few years later in 2013 (after interest and restitution from a settlement administrator employee that had embezzled from the settlement fund), there's $2.7 million left over. At the behest of St. Louis class counsel, but over the objection of the class representative, the district court distributes that money not to the class, but to a local St. Louis charity. Class counsel rushes to hold a ceremony delivering the check notwithstanding the automatic...
  • Strengthening Executive Branch Review of Federal Regulations

    September 3, 2014

    This week marks the due date of public comments on the 2014 edition of the Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulation

    Unable to resist the urge, we filed comments: The Federal Office of No: Enhancing the Executive Branch Role in Challenging Federal Regulation.

    Despite this Office of Management and Budget report’s being the federal government’s only picture of itself with respect to regulatory benefits and costs, just seven rules in the document featured both benefit and cost analysis.

    Yes, seven rules, in an era in which dozens of departments and agencies issue over 3,...

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

    September 3, 2014

    In a week like any other, federal agencies issued regulations for everything from dairy farmers’ profit margins to Canadian apple exports.

  • Laguna v. Coverall N.A.

    September 2, 2014
    Coverall N.A. settled a class action over janitorial franchises by paying a $1M attorney fee and setting up a claims-made process that would pay about $56,625 to the class. The parties justified this settlement by pointing out injunctive relief that some class members would be eligible for; if the maximum number of class members took advantage of the injunctive relief, they said, it would be worth $20 million. Wait a second, complained an objector: most class members will never take advantage of the injunctive relief because they're not eligible for it, and the court should get that data from the defendant to find out the true value of the injunctive relief before approving a settlement that might run afoul of Bluetooth. The district court...
  • Professional Associations Raise Workers’ Wages More than Unions

    September 2, 2014
    Almost every American knows the feelings of excitement and relief that come from getting that brand new job.

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