Senators Write Letter To Harry Reid Opposing Fast Track Authority For TPP and TTIP

By: Thursday January 16, 2014 9:55 am

According to a letter obtained by Firedoglake, 12 United States Senators have written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to convey their opposition to the “prospect of renewing Trade Promotion Authority” or fast track authority. Specifically mentioned in the context of that opposition is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment [...]

SEC Report on Credit Ratings Highlights Conflict of Interest Inherent in Issuer-Pays Model

By: Wednesday December 19, 2012 11:39 am

The Securities and Exchange Commission released a report on the method for how credit rating agencies get their business, something mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. And just as expected, it showed a serious conflict of interest in the current business model, where rating agencies are paid by the issuer of securities, and have to compete for their business, adding all sorts of distortions into the kinds of ratings they give. A better model, envisioned by Dodd-Frank at first but then put into this study, would allow an oversight board to dole out to qualified ratings agencies the securities that would get rated, removing the conflict of interest entirely.

When Gridlock Works: Cybersecurity Bill Stuffed, for Now

By: Thursday August 2, 2012 11:06 am

The Senate, unable to come up with a schedule for amendments, blocked the cybersecurity bill today in an outcome that, despite being a result of Republican obstruction, satisfied Internet activists who had been urging a no vote. You can see from the roll call that this was generally a partisan vote. The backstory is that [...]

Cybersecurity Bill on Fast Track in Senate, With Amendments Upcoming

By: Friday July 27, 2012 11:37 am

The Senate easily advanced a motion to proceed on their version of a cybersecurity bill yesterday, by an 84-11 vote. Clearly this bill, a separate version of which has already passed the House, has a broad degree of support. As if on cue yesterday, the head of the National Security Agency Keith Alexander, warned about [...]

Tammy Baldwin Attacks Scott Walker for Diverting Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Money to Fill Budget Hole

By: Wednesday February 15, 2012 11:42 am

Let’s contrast two lawmakers from the Upper Midwest and their reactions to the still-without-terms foreclosure fraud settlement. Al Franken has a video out toeing the party line on the settlement, really just informing borrowers that, over the next 6-9 months, they may be contacted if they’re eligible for a cash payment from a wrongful foreclosure [...]

Franken Investigates Secret Surveillance Software Loaded onto Smart Phones

By: Friday December 2, 2011 10:55 am

Over the Thanksgiving break, a relative of mine showed me his Android phone, and a new app that had recently popped up on it without his consent. He could not get it to go away, and according to him it was some kind of tracking facilitator. I forgot about this until I read Al Franken’s [...]

Shocker: The More You Pay a Rating Agency, the More They Do Your Bidding!

By: Monday October 31, 2011 2:14 pm

Sit down for this one. Because you’re just not going to believe it. It seems that the more credit rating agencies are paid by corporations and banks to rate their debt, the more favorable ratings they hand out! This goes against everything I know about the untainted, incorruptible hand of the free market, and comes [...]

Franken: Rating Agencies “Fundamentally Flawed,” Operating Same As Before the Crisis

By: Thursday September 1, 2011 10:59 am

When Dodd-Frank passed, I said that the legislation was not a bill but a plan to write a bill later. Dodd-Frank had dozens of studies and rules that would be written and implemented by regulators. The legislation would offer a rough guideline, but ultimately it would be up to the regulators to actually determine whether [...]

Medical Loss Ratio Requirements Working Where Applicable

By: Tuesday August 30, 2011 7:30 am

The Government Accountability Office gave a fairly glowing report about the efect of the federal medical loss ratio, a policy inserted into the Affordable Care Act by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) that forces insurance companies to spend 80-85% of their premiums (depending on the type of coverage) on medical treatment, and to rebate customers if [...]

Other Rating Agencies Implicated in DoJ Mortgage Bond Probe

By: Friday August 19, 2011 10:10 am

It turns out that the Justice Department is not only concerned with Standard and Poor’s but the entire credit rating agency industry, it appears. The reported investigation into the ratings of mortgage backed securities during the housing bubble is centered on S&P, but not limited to them: The probe by lawyers in the Justice Department’s [...]

US Debt Downgrades as Revenge for Dodd-Frank?

By: Wednesday August 10, 2011 12:12 pm

Standard and Poor’s has a bad track record in rating securities. Sometimes they even screw up on basic math, as they did with their $2 trillion error in downgrading US debt. They apparently don’t want anyone to know about that. Standard & Poor’s, whose unprecedented downgrade of U.S. debt triggered a worldwide stocks sell-off, is [...]

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