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OpenMarket: February 2016

  • Bill Aims to Stop Operation Choke Point Happening Again

    February 2, 2016

    Operation Choke Point is a major abuse of executive authority. As we have detailed over the last couple of years, Choke Point is an attempt to use federal supervisory powers to intimidate providers of financial services to businesses that are deemed unacceptable by bureaucrats, even though they are perfectly legal (and in some cases constitutionally protected).

    After CEI and others, notably Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-Mo.), raised concerns about the practice, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation revised its guidance and stepped back from the Operation.

    Although the activities of Operation Choke Point now seem to have...

  • CEI Joins Coalition Supporting Bill to Curb Abusive Lawsuits Targeting Free Speech

    February 2, 2016

    Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined seven other free market organizations in a coalition letter expressing our strong support for the SPEAK FREE Act, which would curtail frivolous lawsuits brought to chill protected speech and stifle criticism about matters of public concern. These lawsuits, known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation”—or SLAPPs—are brought by plaintiffs to punish speakers they dislike, even though the speech is protected by the First Amendment. Even though defendants in such cases usually prevail in court, they must still spend lots of time and money defending themselves through the litigation process.

    To combat SLAPPs, the SPEAK FREE Act would let defendants move...

  • Interchange Fee Warnings Coming True in EU

    February 2, 2016

    We have often warned about the negative effects of interchange fee regulation and specifically a cap on interchange fees. Last year we warned the European Parliament that a proposed EU-wide cap on interchange fees would cause many banks to raise fees and interest rates on all their customers, not just those who use debit or credit cards. We said:

    Capping interchange fees has been tried in some countries...

  • West Virginia: Prospect for a Right to Work Majority

    February 1, 2016

    West Virginia may soon become the nation’s 26th right to work state—making the number of right to work states a majority for the first time. The West Virginia Senate passed the right to work legislationSenate Bill 1, on Thursday, January 21. The state’s House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a 64-36 majority, held a public hearing on the bill last Friday, January 29.

    Republican lawmakers made passing right to work a priority after gaining control of both chambers of the legislature in 2014, in an effort to revive the state’s economy. “We’re the only state in the nation to have lost population,” ...

  • RealClear Radio Hour: Greek Goodbye & Cuban Revolutionary

    February 1, 2016

    This week on RealClear Radio Hour we discuss Greece and Cuba, two countries whose vastly different governments have inflicted similar human suffering and struggle.

    My first guest is Elena Panaritis, founder of Thought for Action, former World Bank economist and special advisor to the Greek PASOK government. Elena faults cronyist political systems and the special interests that thrive under them as the major obstacles to reform. Panaritis argues Greece is the canary in the coal mine for dysfunctional states throughout the European Union, and expects new austerity plans and devaluation in the coming years.

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

    February 1, 2016

    The big Snowzilla storm came and went, but still made its presence known in the Federal Register. For many documents, there is a lag of a few days between submission and publication. So while the first three days of the week it was business as usual despite a government slowdown, Thursday’s edition was only 69 pages, and Friday’s was 92 pages. A normal day is around 300 pages. Despite the temporary slowdown, regulators still issued rules covering everything from spray valves to alien medical exams.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 56 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 59 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation precisely every three hours.
    • With 217 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 2,855 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total...


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