Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The SEC Illustrates The Danger Of Regulatory Capture

The phrase “regulatory capture” shrouds a serious problem in vaguely academic jargon, making it seem like unimportant esoterica rather than anything noteworthy. But the phenomenon that the euphemism represents is, indeed, significant: When a government agency is effectively captured by — and subservient to — the industry that agency is supposed to be objectively regulating, it is a big deal.

A perfect example of regulatory capture came earlier this month from the Securities and Exchange Commission — the law enforcement agency that is supposed to be overseeing the financial industry.

As part of that responsibility, the agency’s top financial examiner, Andrew Bowden, warned last year of rampant fraud, corruption and abuse in the private equity industry, which today manages tens of billions of dollars of public pension money for states and cities across the country.…

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The Sun Is Rising On Solar Panels, And There’s No Fighting It

On the average sunny day, Germany’s huge energy grid gets 40 percent of its power from the sun. Guess what happened one recent morning when the sun went into eclipse. Nothing.

Or close to nothing. When the moon hid the sun for a few hours, the backup natural gas and coal plants switched on. The price of electricity rose briefly. That was it. Solar again showed itself to be a reliable energy source under a tough challenge.

Back in the United States, meanwhile, electric companies and various fossil fuel interests are fighting the American public’s growing passion for rooftop solar panels.…

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Taking The Pulse Of Obama’s Health Care Law At Age Five

By Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — With more than 50 congressional repeal votes, a near-death Supreme Court experience, and a botched marketplace debut to its credit, the Affordable Care Act has had a tortured five-year existence as the Republican Party’s legislative enemy Number One.

And since President Barack Obama signed the health care measure into law on March 23, 2010, its troubled legislative history isn’t close to being fully written.

Yet another Supreme Court case threatens to topple one of the law’s main pillars, there’s bipartisan support in Congress to eliminate the tax on medical devices — one of the law’s primary funding mechanisms — and a slight majority of Americans still have negative views of the sprawling legislation.…

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