- Neat trick: banks can get Community Reinvestment Act credit for lending in “low-income census tracts” even when that means extending $800K mortgages to gentrifiers [Diego Zuluaga, Politico, related policy analysis and Cato podcast]
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan to regulate private equity. It’s not good [Steven Bainbridge] When you’ve lost veteran liberal columnist Steven Pearlstein… [Washington Post]
- Speaking of terms with ugly histories, maybe it’s time for Sens. Warren and Sanders to retire the metaphor of the financial sector as vampires or “vultures” engaged in “sucking” or “bleeding” [Ira Stoll, related]
- Volume of securities litigation is on sharp upswing, policy remedies needed [Kevin LaCroix/D&O Diary and more, Chubb “Rising Tide” report] Rising in Australia too [Nicola Middlemiss, Insurance Business Australia]
- Unconstitutionality of CFPB structure hasn’t gone away and neither has the need for the Supreme Court to tackle the issue [Ilya Shapiro on Cato certiorari amicus brief in Seila Law LLC v. CFPB] Appointment process for Puerto Rico financial oversight board under PROMESA law is of doubtful constitutionality [Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC]
- In an age of professional consultants, why does the law continue to require corporate governance to be delivered by way of individual board members? Firms specializing in board services could offer attractive alternative [Todd Henderson, Charles Elson, Stephen Bainbridge, Federalist Society Forum]
Fossil fuel executives should be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have knowingly caused. #GreenNewDeal
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 22, 2019
Vermont senator and presidential Bernie Sanders cites no criminal law that the executives violated, but he wouldn’t be the first champion of collectivism for whom the conviction was settled on first and the law found afterward. More: William Allison, Energy in Depth (in which I take issue with retroactive application of criminal law, and notions of “conspiracy” that do not make clear which underlying laws were involved).
Complying with wage and hour law these days is no easy matter, whether you’re Sen. Bernie Sanders or running a California offshore oil platform. I explain why in my new Cato post on Parker Drilling v. Newton, decided by the Supreme Court last month. More on Sen. Sanders’s travails here and here, from my Cato colleague Ryan Bourne.
Two politicians with whom I regularly disagree have proposed a national cap on credit card interest of 15% a year. Because they are well known figures, the proposal is likely to get some attention.
Per one reporter, the current median card interest rate of 21.36% breaks down to 17.73% for high credit scores and 24.99% for people with low credit scores. Who do you think will be denied credit altogether under a 15% cap? Are they better off with an option of 24.99% credit, or with no option of credit at all?
Since the idea of interest caps is anything but new, economists have had a long time to study this issue, as I noted in this earlier post. One recent study looked at Arkansas, a state with a throwback constitutional provision capping allowable interest rates at 17 percent. The effect is to keep some otherwise common financial products from being offered in the state, as a result of which many Arkansans “drive to neighboring states to take out small-dollar installment loans.”
Why think that the government can set price ceilings well below market clearing levels without causing shortages of the affected good or service? More fundamentally, why should the government stand between two parties in a willing transaction? More: Steve Horwitz.
P.S. Did someone bring up postal banking?
From my new Cato post:
“Read this section carefully. It requires you to waive your right to a jury trial and arbitrate certain disputes and claims and prohibits class and representative actions or arbitrations.” — from the “Bernie App.” (illustration via @NC_CyberLaw on Twitter).
That’s right. The campaign-ready “Bernie app” released this week requires its users to agree to submit to arbitration in case of dispute, in place of lawsuits and especially class actions. As Ted Frank observes, “Even Bernie Sanders recognizes the importance and value of arbitration in navigating a legal system designed to benefit lawyers over the interests of consumers and businesses.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Vermont senator preached what he practiced? Later I bring the discussion around to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week (Lamps Plus v. Varela, earlier here and here) that courts should not read class arbitration mechanisms into arbitration agreements that are silent or ambiguous on the subject. Whole thing here.
They knew, because their own allies had told them: “As you know, deception/disinformation isn’t itself a basis for criminal prosecution under RICO.” — an official of the Union of Concerned Scientists, writing to the organizers of a campaign to enlist scientists behind a call for a RICO investigation of the fossil fuel industry for its statements about climate change. The letter added, explaining UCS’s unwillingness to back the letter, “We don’t think that Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse’s call gives enough of a basis for scientists to sign on to this as a solid approach at this point.” [Reason]
Despite cautions like these, calls for a RICO investigation soon caught on among the political class and an investigation launched by Democratic state attorneys general has now aimed dragnet climate subpoenas at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, thus far less directly, at nearly 100 advocacy, free-market, and university-based groups. “These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the George Mason University Law and Economics Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, the Cato Institute [which publishes Overlawyered], the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and on and on,” writes Ronald Bailey. CEI responded to the subpoena here (in a brief written by Andrew Grossman) and here, and on May 13 Cohen Milstein, the private contingency-fee law firm representing the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, responded, reserving the right to compel compliance with the subpoena, which demands the production of ten years’ worth of documents.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are among public figures who have backed calls for a racketeering investigation of fossil fuel companies’ participation in climate debates. I have found no evidence that either has expressed concern about the direction in which such investigations are headed.
- After residents’ access to Texas care is threatened, New Mexico passes law making clear that care given in other states is subject to those states’ laws, not N.M.’s [Texas Alliance for Patient Access, earlier]
- Shkreli notwithstanding, “the big news about generic drugs is good news. Generic drug prices are falling” [Alex Tabarrok]
- Party of Science? Bernie Sanders has steered federal backing to alternative medicine [Skeptical Raptor]
- “There is no problem so bad that government-imposed remedies cannot make it worse, spawn new problems or both.” For instance: crackdown on opiates [Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune/syndicated; related upcoming April 29 Cato event with Jeffrey Miron, David Murray, and Tim Lynch]
- Struggle against “sanism” might push egalitarianism too far, or maybe it’s a natural [Scott Greenfield on Michael Perlin program at National Association for Public Defense]
- Once again — how many times does this make? — malpractice reform proposals in U.S. Congress run aground for failure to anticipate federalist objections [The Hill, ABA Journal, Dean Clancy, my 2011 take]
Daniel McCall of Liberty Maniacs has put out a parody image in which the likeness of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is lined up as the latest in a row of figures such as Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Yesterday, invoking the campaign’s trademark and copyright interests, a Seattle lawyer named Claire Hawkins “has demanded that McCall stop purveying this image.” It’s the latest in a series of aggressive moves by campaigns and candidates including Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, and Ron Paul, as well as the Republican National Committee, to assert intellectual property as a reason for taking down works that play on their image in either unfavorable or favorable ways as a means of expression. [Paul Alan Levy, Consumer Law & Policy; Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion]
- Do lawyers find ways to litigate over the effects of the leap day, Feb. 29, that is inserted into the calendar every four years? Glad you asked [Kyle White, Abnormal Use]
- Weren’t regulations supposed to have fixed this, or is it that accommodation rules for air transport are legally separate from those for ordinary commerce? “More flights seeing odd animals as emotional support companions” [WHIO]
- Tiny desk and art magnets: Zen Magnets wins partial but important legal victory against Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [Zen Magnets, Nancy Nord, earlier]
- Federal government, which has passed no law on private-sector LGBT bias, considers withholding funds to punish North Carolina for declining to have one [New York Times; earlier on Obama EEOC’s wishful effort to generate such coverage through reinterpretation of other law]
- Spirit of trade barriers: Nevada workers walk off job to protest use of workers from other U.S. states [Alex Tabarrok] Expansion of foreign trade “has revealed, not created, problems in the American economy” [Scott Lincicome] More: “Limiting trade with low-wage countries as severely as Sanders wants to would hurt the very poorest people on Earth. A lot.” [Zack Beauchamp, Vox; related Jordan Weissmann, Slate (what Sanders told NYDN “should be absolutely chilling to the developing world… inhumane”)]
- Latest ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) cause célèbre is over 6-year-old Lexi, whose world is getting upended because of her 1.5% Choctaw descent (a great-great-great-great grandparent on her father’s side) [Christina Sandefur/Federalist Society blog, Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Post earlier generally on ICWA and in my writing at Reason and Cato on the Adoptive Couple case]
While on the topic of presidential candidates’ disturbing views on speech: Matt Welch recalls the former Secretary of State’s many campaigns against controversial videogames, ads, and entertainment, her regular support for government intrusion in communications technology and social media on a rationale of national security, and her far from wholehearted defense of speech values when an inflammatory amateur YouTube video caused riots in Muslim nations [“Hail to the Censor! Hillary Clinton’s long war on free speech,” Reason] Nor should we forget the Citizens United case, which arose from a legal effort to suppress a critical movie made about her: Mrs. Clinton imagines that “allowing more campaign-related speech has made elections less competitive” [Jacob Sullum, Reason] More/update: Matt Welch.
While we’re at it: that period of his career when Bernie Sanders bent himself in knots to rationalize government censorship of opposition voices. [Michael Moynihan, Daily Beast] Bonus: Bernie sees brighter side of breadlines!