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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • Dodd-Frank’s Thousands of Commandments and Near-Zero Benefits

    May 15, 2015

    Among the Ten Thousand Commandments in Wayne Crews’s annual survey of the federal regulatory state, are thousands of federal financial rules added by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – whose unfinished implementation has already cost the economy billions, perhaps close to a trillion dollars. (In Crews’ related study “Tip of the Costberg,” he calculates from official government figures that compliance and indirect costs of financial regulation total $79.125 billion annually. But he cites estimates that some of the law’s provisions could have a cost to the economy exceeding $1 trillion.)



    This is similar to the American Action Forum...

  • Labor Department "Fiduciary Rule" Threatens to Eviscerate JOBS Act Gains for Investors, Entrepreneurs

    May 6, 2015

    Three years ago, President Barack Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, modestly but significantly liberalizing securities markets for investors and entrepreneurs. In signing that bill into law on April 5, 2012, Obama paid heed to the wisdom of ordinary American investors and made the case for easing barriers to their investing in startups.



    “Because of this bill, start-ups and small business will now have access to a big, new pool of potential investors—namely, the American people,” Obama proclaimed. “For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.”



    But the authors of the Department of Labor’s new proposed “fiduciary rule” don’t seem to share the view President...

  • Gruber's Disciples Gunning for Your IRA and 401(k)

    April 21, 2015

    Is Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who seemingly dropped out of public view after he was caught on camera bragging how he and other Obamacare architects misled the American public, now advising the Department of Labor?



    No evidence indicates that he is, but the authors of sweeping new 444-page DOL regulation that would sharply curtail choices of assets and investment strategies in 401(k)s, IRAs and other savings plans appear to share Gruber’s mindset on the “stupidity of the American voter” (a revelation National Review editor Rich Lowry aptly described as “us an unvarnished look into the progressive mind, which … favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden,...

  • Least Transparent Administration Closes Records on Fannie and Freddie

    March 19, 2015

    This Sunshine Week, the administration that swept into office promising to be the “most transparent” in history was just judged by a major news service as least transparent of modern presidencies.



    An analysis by the Associated Pres found that “the Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.” The AP adds that the administration “also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law - but only when it was challenged.”



    But FOIA requests are just the tip of the iceberg for this administration’s secrecy, much of which has nothing to do with...

  • Remembering M. Stanton Evans

    March 9, 2015

    What do best-selling author and New Yorker correspondent Malcolm Gladwell, ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran, popular conservative journalist and author John Fund, and this writer have in common? We are all graduates of the National Journalism Center internship program, under the leadership of M. Stanton Evans.



    Stan, as he was called by friends (and whom I was privileged to call a friend after I graduated from the program), died last week at 80 of pancreatic cancer. He had no children, but left behind a legacy of students dispersed in prominent positions in media and public policy. All of us benefitted from the lessons he imparted on the importance of finding facts, regardless of opinion, on the subjects we were researching.



    “I tell my students even if you are an opinion journalist, your opinion should be based on facts,” Stan told New York...

  • How Department of Labor's "Fiduciary" Rule Could Cripple IRA Choices

    March 3, 2015

    Last week, President Obama called on the Department of Labor to “update the rules and requirements that retirement advisors put the best interests of their clients above their own financial interests.” At a speech at the American Association of Retired Persons, the president proclaimed, “You want to give financial advice, you’ve got to put your client’s interests first. “



    Yet, if the regulation the DOL is set to introduce at the president’s behest is anything like the “fiduciary” rule it proposed in 2010—and withdrew upon a groundswell of protest the next year—the government’s definition of “best interest” will likely not be in the best interest of individuals who wish to pursue alternative assets from gold to peer-to-peer loans to crowdfunding in their IRAs.



    The last time...

  • Harvard Study Confirms Dodd-Frank's Harm to Main Street

    February 10, 2015

    Literally since the day the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by President Obama, my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleagues and I have predicted its harshest effects would fall on community banks. “While the bill claims to crack down on excesses on Wall Street, its harshest impact will likely be on Main Street businesses that had nothing to do with the crisis,” I wrote on FoxNews.com on July 15, 2010, the day President Obama signed the bill.



    Since then, numerous studies, as well as testimonials from community bank officials, have proven this prediction correct. Yet much of the media and politicians still peddle the myth that Dodd-Frank only hurts Wall Street, and thus, repealing or easing sections of Dodd-Frank would benefit “...

  • Main Street Fights Dodd-Frank's Chipping Away at the Constitution

    January 30, 2015

    “Wall Street Chips Away at Dodd-Frank,” blared a recent front-page headline in The New York Times about bipartisan measures that have passed the U.S. House of Representatives and/or been signed into law that ever-so-slightly lighten the burden of the so-called financial reform rammed through Congress in 2010. “GOP Pushes More Perks For Wall Street...” reads the home page of The Huffington Post under the picture of establishment pillar, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase.



    Yet, what these articles don’t say is that the firms putting their resources on the line to challenge Dodd-Frank in court are the furthest thing from Wall Street high rollers. They are decades-old firms selling stable, time-tested financial products to everyday consumers.



    At first glance...

  • Supreme Court Refuses to Make Dodd-Frank More Draconian

    January 20, 2015

    Today, the Supreme Court lifted a cloud of uncertainty that had been hanging over consumers, community banks, and credit unions by refusing to take a case that threatened to make the stifling Dodd-Frank pseudo-financial reform legislation even more draconian than it already is.



    The Court let stand a unanimous ruling from a three-judge D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that overturned district Judge Richard Leon’s 2013 ruling that the Federal Reserve had not made the price controls stemming from Dodd-Frank’s Durbin Amendment were not stringent enough. Today’s decision, authored by Clinton-appointed Judge David Tatel, found that the...

  • Obama Should Help Borrowers by Shedding Dodd-Frank, Not Pumping FHA

    January 8, 2015

    “If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” So said Ronald Reagan in 1986.



    Reagan was describing the unintended effects of government policy. But for the Obama administration, this formula seems to be the modus operandi of its policy making.



    Take mortgages, for instance. After the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul was rammed through the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a bureaucracy created by the Dodd-Frank to be unaccountable almost by design—implemented the law’s “qualified mortgage” (QM) provisions.



    The QM provisions were so costly and complex that community banks and credit unions—as far...

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