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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • Volcker Rule Overshoots Wall Street to Hit Utah

    December 19, 2013
    You might think after the disastrous debut of HealthCare.gov and thousands of insurance cancellations, those who call themselves progressives might just have a little humility about grandiose government schemes with vague terms and objectives.

    Not so, if judged by the adulatory greeting by liberal activists and the establishment media of this month's implementation of a pie-in-the-sky provision of the Dodd-Frank financial "reform," a law that has often been referred to by experts as "Obamacare for banks."

    Like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank was a 2,500-plus page law rammed through the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010. And like the bureaucrat-written rules implementing Obamacare, the regulations implementing the law are pretty lengthy as well....
  • The Volcker Winter Storm -- Bad Rule, Worse Implementation

    December 11, 2013
    On a snowy day in Washington, several federal agencies packed some mean regulatory snowballs that will most likely overshoot their supposed destination of Wall Street and crash-land with a thud on the businesses and investors of Main Street. Rather than postpone the planned vote on Tuesday, when the federal government was officially closed, agencies sheltered themselves from public view and pushed through the rules.

    According to USA Today, "CFTC spokesman Steven Adamske said his agency will not hold a public meeting, but commissioners will approve the rules in writing." This lack of transparency on voting on the rule was symptomatic of a series of last-minute changes from the rule the agencies had initially proposed two years ago. The agencies never submitted...
  • Government "Study" on Internet Tax Hides Harmful Small Business Effects

    November 20, 2013
    Under presidents of both parties, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has produced quality independent studies on the harmful tax and regulatory burden on smaller firms.

    So it is especially troubling that this office would now produce a study minimizing the harm and purporting to show benefits of new Internet sales taxes on small businesses.

    The trouble is it paid $80,000 to two longtime advocates for letting states levy sales taxes on remote online sellers to do so. (Hat tip to Andrew Moylan of R Street for finding the contract.)

    Donald Bruce and William F. Fox of the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research have for over a decade produced studies that estimated revenue losses at the very high end for online sales "escaping" taxation and minimized...
  • Twitter, the JOBS Act, and the Return to IPO Normalcy

    November 7, 2013
    The headline read that the company's initial public offering price is "high," and "so is its valuation."  The accompanying story explained that the latest tech sensation had yet to show a profit, and had in fact been losing millions per year.

    An analyst attributed what the article called the stock's "high valuation" to "Internet inhalant." He said, "Some people smoke Internet inhalant and their judgment gets bizarre."

    Think this is an article about the Twitter IPO debuting today? Wrong! It's a piece from Wired in 1997 on the new IPO of Amazon.com.

    Like Twitter, Amazon was losing money when it went public. In fact, investors would have to wait more than four years after its IPO for the firm to turn its first profit.

    Yet...
  • Mel Watt Fails Taxpayer, Privacy, and Transparency Tests

    October 31, 2013
    Former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., failed his procedural confirmation vote today to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. His defeat -- so far -- is a victory not just for fiscal integrity, but for privacy and transparency as well.

    As a congressman, Watt egged on the reckless policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that got us into the mortgage crisis from which the economy is still recovering. But just as bad, he was on the wrong side of both liberals and conservative reformers on two crucial issues. Watt was a co-sponsor and vocal supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which collapsed in 2012 after a transpartisan coalition made the public aware of its threat to privacy and innovation. And...
  • Don't Let FTC Shut Down Legit Credit Repair Services

    October 29, 2013
    Next to the infamous Healthcare.gov, the website that featured the most bugs of the last month was FTC.gov, the site of the Federal Trade Commission.

    During the shutdown, many government websites were frozen to avoid the cost of upkeep, but with disjointed patterns. And Cato Institute Research Fellow Julian Sanchez noted at Slate that the FTC site was among the "weirder."

    "Browse to any of their pages and you’ll see, for a split second, the full content of the page you want—only to be redirected to a shutdown notice page also hosted at FTC.gov," Sanchez wrote. "If the full site is actually still running, it’s hard to see how a redirect after the real page is served could be avoiding any expenditures."

    Now that the shutdown is...
  • Shut Down Fannie and Freddie Permanently

    October 11, 2013
    Cross-posted from Newsbusters.org

    “U.S. Government Shutdown Threatening Housing Recovery,” screams the Oct. 2 headline of a shutdown scare screed in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

    Wade into the story, however, and we see that what’s really at hand is a mere delay of processing of mortgages because of some employees furloughed at the Federal Housing Administration.

    Furthermore, as the article explains, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will remain completely open because ” the government-controlled mortgage aggregators fund operations through fees collected from private lenders”...
  • Twitter IPO a Vindication of Bipartisan JOBS Act

    October 4, 2013
    Almost two years ago, I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled, "Making It Legal to Tweet for Investors." In the op-ed, I described bipartisan bills that contained modest but significant deregulation of securities laws—an update for the age of social networking.

    These bills were eventually merged into the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was signed by President Obama in April 2012. And in a twist, Twitter is using JOBS Act provisions for its own intial public offering, as revealed by the filing of its first IPO documents last night.

    And investors are better off for it, as companies like Twitter going public at earlier stages of growth will mean greater opportunity for ordinary shareholders to grow wealthy with the company. And going public at an earlier stage...
  • Mississippi Should Tell CFPB to "Stop Spying on Me"

    September 17, 2013
    The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is coming to Mississippi Wednesday and Thursday with a public forum on "access to information." A vital question for Mississippians to ask leaders of the bureaucracy at the venue, being held from 11 AM to 1 PM tomorrow at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, is why the CFPB wants so much access to their personal information.

    Here is the CFPB's meeting agenda for Mississippi. This Facebook page tells about the privacy violations and other problems with this uniquely unaccountable governmental entity.

    The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul to defend consumers in the credit card and mortgage markets, is building a database of sensitive individual financial information...
  • Paul and Udall Push Bipartisan Credit Union Business Lending Regulatory Reform

    September 10, 2013
    Today, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is launching its "Don't Tax Tuesday" in which credit unions and their supporters tweet members of Congress about not double taxing credit union members in the name of "tax reform." Another group, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), is holding a "Congressional Caucus" this week in which leaders and members of credit unions meet with lawmakers about the impact of current and proposed taxes and regulations.

    Much of credit union's big government burden is the same as that as faced by banks through the 2,500 pages of the Dodd-Frank financial "reform" rammed through in 2010 and the unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau it created. Credit Unions have...

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