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Regulation

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Information Law and Policy in Capital Markets

Financial information is a both a public resource and a commodity that market participants produce and distribute in connection with other financial products and services. Legislators, regulators, and other policy makers must therefore balance the goal of making information transparent, accessible, and useful for the collective benefit of society against the need to maintain appropriate incentives for information originators and intermediaries. In Chasing the Tape, Onnig Dombalagian examines the policy objectives and regulatory tools that shape the information production chain in capital markets in the United States, the European Union, and other jurisdictions. His analysis offers a unique cross section of capital market infrastructure, spanning different countries, regulated entities, and financial instruments.

Dombalagian uses four key categories of information—issuer information, market information, information used in credit analysis, and benchmarks—to survey the market forces and regulatory regimes that govern the flow of information in capital markets. He considers the similarities and differences in regulatory aims and strategies across categories, and discusses alternative approaches proposed or adopted by scholars and policy makers. Dombalagian argues that the long-term regulatory challenges raised by economic globalization and advanced information technology will require policy makers to decouple information policy in capital markets from increasingly arbitrary historical classifications and jurisdictional boundaries.

The global financial crisis has prompted economists to rethink fundamental questions on how governments should intervene in the financial sector. Many countries have already begun to reform the taxation and regulation of the financial sector—in the United States, for example, the Dodd–Frank Act became law in 2010; in Europe, different countries have introduced additional taxes on the sector and made substantial progress toward a banking union for the eurozone. Only recently, however, has a new field in economics emerged to study the interplay between public finance and banking. This book offers the latest thinking on the topic by American and European economists.

The contributors first explore new conceptual ground, offering rigorous theoretical analyses that help us better understand how tax policy and regulation can contribute to avoiding another crisis or reducing its impact. Contributors then investigate the behavior of financial institutions in response to various forms of taxation and regulation, offering empirical evidence that is vital for policy design.

Contributors
Thiess Buettner, Jin Cao, Giuseppina Cannas, Gunther Capelle-Blancard, Jessica Cariboni, Brian Coulter, Ernesto Crivelli, Ruud de Mooij, Michael P. Devereux, Katharina Erbe, Ricardo Fenochietto, Marco Petracco Giudici, Timothy J. Goodspeed, Reint Gropp, Olena Havyrlchyk, Michael Keen, Lawrence L. Kreicher, Julia Lendvai, Ben Lockwood, Massimo Marchesi, Donato Masciandaro, Colin Mayer, Robert N. McCauley, Patrick McGuire, Gaëtan Nicodème, Masanori Orihara, Francesco Passarelli, Carola Pessino, Rafal Raciborski, John Vickers, Lukas Vogel, Stefano Zedda

Edited by Paul H. Schultz

The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed by Congress in 2010 largely in response to the financial crisis, created the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; among other provisions, it limits proprietary trading by banks, changes the way swaps are traded, and curtails the use of credit ratings. The effects of Dodd–Frank remain a matter for speculation; more than half of the regulatory rulemaking called for in the bill has yet to be completed. In this book, experts on Dodd–Frank and financial regulation—academics, regulators, and practitioners—discuss the ways that the law is likely to succeed and the ways it is likely to come up short.

Placing their discussion in the broader context of regulatory issues, the contributors consider banking reform; the regulation of derivatives; the Volcker Rule, and whether or not banks should be forced to stop proprietary trading; the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and possible flaws in its conception; the law and “too-big-to-fail” institutions; mortgage reform, including qualification requirements and securitization; and new disclosure requirements regarding CEO compensation and conflict minerals.

Contributors
James R. Barth, Jeff Bloch, Mark A. Calabria, Charles W. Calomiris, Shane Corwin, Cem Demiroglu, John Dearie, Amy K. Edwards, Raymond P. H. Fishe, Priyank Gandhi, Thomas M. Hoenig, Christopher M. James, Anil K Kashyap, Robert McDonald, James Overdahl, Craig Pirrong, Matthew Richardson, Paul H. Schultz, David Skeel, Chester Spatt, Anjan Thakor, John Walsh, Lawrence J. White, Arthur Wilmarth, Todd J. Zywicki

Making Regulators Work for Us

The recent financial crisis was an accident, a “perfect storm” fueled by an unforeseeable confluence of events that unfortunately combined to bring down the global financial systems. Or at least this is the story told and retold by a chorus of luminaries that includes Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, and Alan Greenspan.

In Guardians of Finance, economists James Barth, Gerard Caprio, and Ross Levine argue that the financial meltdown of 2007 to 2009 was no accident; it was negligent homicide. They show that senior regulatory officials around the world knew or should have known that their policies were destabilizing the global financial system and yet chose not to act until the crisis had fully emerged.

Barth, Caprio, and Levine propose a reform to counter this systemic failure: the establishment of a “Sentinel” to provide an informed, expert, and independent assessment of financial regulation. Its sole power would be to demand information and to evaluate it from the perspective of the public--rather than that of the financial industry, the regulators, or politicians.

Leading Economists Reassess Economic Policy

In 2011, the International Monetary Fund invited prominent economists and economic policymakers to consider the brave new world of the post-crisis global economy. The result is a book that captures the state of macroeconomic thinking at a transformational moment.

The crisis and the weak recovery that has followed raise fundamental questions concerning macroeconomics and economic policy. These top economists discuss future directions for monetary policy, fiscal policy, financial regulation, capital-account management, growth strategies, the international monetary system, and the economic models that should underpin thinking about critical policy choices.

Contributors
Olivier Blanchard, Ricardo Caballero, Charles Collyns, Arminio Fraga, Már Guðmundsson, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Otmar Issing, Olivier Jeanne, Rakesh Mohan, Maurice Obstfeld, José Antonio Ocampo, Guillermo Ortiz, Y. V. Reddy, Dani Rodrik, David Romer, Paul Romer, Andrew Sheng, Hyun Song Shin, Parthasarathi Shome, Robert Solow, Michael Spence, Joseph Stiglitz, Adair Turner

Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry

For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America’s most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich—including newly minted dot-com millionaires—to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by claiming benefits not recognized by law. These abusive domestic tax shelters bore such exotic names as BOSS, BLIPS, and COBRA and were developed by such prestigious firms as KPMG and Ernst & Young. They brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from clients and bilked the U.S. Treasury of billions in revenues before the IRS and Justice Department stepped in with civil penalties and criminal prosecutions. In Confidence Games, Tanina Rostain and Milton Regan describe the rise and fall of the tax shelter industry during this period, offering a riveting account of the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar.

Rostain and Regan describe a beleaguered IRS preoccupied by attacks from antitax and antigovernment politicians; heightened competition for professional services; the relaxation of tax practitioner norms against aggressive advice; and the creation of complex financial instruments that made abusive shelters harder to detect. By 2004, the tax shelter boom was over, leaving failed firms, disgraced professionals, and prison sentences in its wake. Rostain and Regan’s cautionary tale remains highly relevant today, as lawyers and accountants continue to face intense competitive pressure and regulators still struggle to keep pace with accelerating financial risk and innovation.

Lessons from China

The development and deployment of cleaner energy technologies have become globalized phenomena. Yet despite the fact that energy-related goods account for more than ten percent of international trade, policy makers, academics, and the business community perceive barriers to the global diffusion of these emerging technologies. Experts point to problems including intellectual property concerns, trade barriers, and developing countries’ limited access to technology and funding. In this book, Kelly Gallagher uses analysis and case studies from China’s solar photovoltaic, gas turbine, advanced battery, and coal gasification industries to examine both barriers and incentives in clean energy technology transfer.

Gallagher finds that the barriers are not as daunting as many assume; these technologies already cross borders through foreign direct investment, licensing, joint R&D, and other channels. She shows that intellectual property infringement is not as widespread as business leaders fear and can be managed, and that firms in developing countries show considerable resourcefulness in acquiring technology legally. She finds that financing does present an obstacle, especially when new cleaner technologies compete with entrenched, polluting, and often government-subsidized traditional technologies. But the biggest single barrier, she finds, is the failure of government to provide sensible policy incentives. The case studies show how government, through market-formation policy, can unleash global market forces. Gallagher’s findings have theoretical significance as well; she proposes a new model of global technology diffusion that casts doubt on aspects of technology transfer theory.

Cartels and Bidding Rings

Explicit collusion is an agreement among competitors to suppress rivalry that relies on interfirm communication and/or transfers. Rivalry between competitors erodes profits; the suppression of rivalry through collusion is one avenue by which firms can enhance profits. Many cartels and bidding rings function for years in a stable and peaceful manner despite the illegality of their agreements and incentives for deviation by their members. In The Economics of Collusion, Robert Marshall and Leslie Marx offer an examination of collusive behavior: what it is, why it is profitable, how it is implemented, and how it might be detected.

Marshall and Marx, who have studied collusion extensively for two decades, begin with three narratives: the organization and implementation of a cartel, the organization and implementation of a bidding ring, and a parent company’s efforts to detect collusion by its divisions. These accounts--fictitious, but rooted in the inner workings and details from actual cases--offer a novel and engaging way for the reader to understand the basics of collusive behavior. The narratives are followed by detailed economic analyses of cartels, bidding rings, and detection.

The narratives offer an engaging entrée to the more rigorous economic discussion that follows. The book is accessible to any reader who understands basic economic reasoning. Mathematical material is flagged with asterisks.

Despite its theoretical elegance, the standard optimal tax model has significant limitations. In this book, Joel Slemrod and Christian Gillitzer argue that tax analysis must move beyond the emphasis on optimal tax rates and bases to consider such aspects of taxation as administration, compliance, and remittance.

Slemrod and Gillitzer explore what they term a tax-systems approach, which takes tax evasion seriously; revisits the issue of remittance, or who writes the check to cover tax liability (employer or employee, retailer or consumer); incorporates administrative and compliance costs; recognizes a range of behavioral responses to tax rates; considers nonstandard instruments, including tax base breadth and enforcement effort; and acknowledges that tighter enforcement is sometimes a more socially desirable way to raise revenue than an increase in statutory tax rates. Policy makers, Slemrod and Gillitzer argue, would be well advised to recognize the interrelationship of tax rates, bases, enforcement, and administration, and acknowledge that tax policy is really tax-systems policy.

Objectives and Means

The global economic crisis of 2008–2009 seemed a crisis not just of economic performance but also of the system’s underlying political ideology and economic theory. But a second Great Depression was averted, and the radical shift to New Deal-like economic policies predicted by some never took place. Perhaps the correct response to the crisis is simply careful management of the macroeconomic challenges as we recover, combined with reform of financial regulation to prevent a recurrence. In Economics After the Crisis, Adair Turner offers a strong counterargument to this somewhat complacent view. The crisis of 2008–2009, he writes, should prompt a wide set of challenges to economic and political assumptions and to economic theory.

Turner argues that more rapid growth should not be the overriding objective for rich developed countries, that inequality should concern us, that the pre-crisis confidence in financial markets as the means of pursuing objectives was profoundly misplaced.

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