Mr. Benjamin’s appointment has already raised concerns among television broadcasters, largely due to a paper he published back in May. Entitled “Roasting the Pig to Burn Down the House: A Modest Proposal,” Mr. Benjamin, a professor at Duke University School of Law, examined current broadcast spectrum policies and concluded that regulation that would make broadcast television unprofitable may be in the best interest of the public considering other uses for the spectrum currently licensed to over-the-air television outlets.
Today, both Citigroup and Wells Fargo announced plans to repay their TARP funds. Their announcement comes shortly after Bank of America announced its plans to exit the bailout program. Apparently, December is the month for those banks remaining in the program to make their way out.
Could this move have anything to do with the approaching year-end?
Considering that all three have fiscal years ending December 31, 2009, the move is hardly surprising.123 By repaying their TARP funds during this fiscal year, all three can start 2010 free of government encumbrances on executive compensation and the additional oversight that came with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (which, by the way, never relieved [government speak for buying assets from the banks] any troubled assets, but instead infused capital into the banks to prevent their collapse).
In the past few years, much has been made of the plans to merge the accounting standards used in the US with those used by much of the rest of the developed world. In 2002, the US standards setter and the international standards bodies agreed to a framework for convergence of US generally accepted accounting principles (US GAAP) with the International Financial Reporting System (IFRS) in a document known as the Norwalk Agreement.1 Since then, the US and international bodies (known, respectively, as the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, and the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB) have worked to align their respective standards so that, eventually, developed nations will have a homogenous accounting system. One particular point of difficulty in this effort, however, has been the issue of fair value accounting. The economic recession that began in 2007 further complicated convergence efforts as attention was drawn away from reconciliation efforts and focused on both placing blame and reforming the practices that caused the crisis. Then, with the election of President Barack Obama, the entire convergence movement was threatened when the newly-appointed chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that she would not “feel bound”2 by the convergence roadmap established by her predecessor.
As President Obama prepares to announce his plan for the War in Afghanistan and measures to stabilize the economy increase the federal budget deficit to historic levels, perhaps it is time to rethink our nation’s fight against marijuana. With numerous states having passed medical marijuana statutes and the federal government opting not to prosecute those individuals operating within the strictures of such laws, the so-called “War on Drugs” seems to be a money-losing and ill-fated proposition where cannabis is concerned.
Just as the FCC moved its most recent and controversial initiative to the public-comment phase, the agency began what will likely be an even more contentious process to reallocate the nation’s broadcast spectrum. With the goal of providing more spectrum for broadband internet services, the Commission proposed that television broadcasters relinquish a portion of the frequencies they control in exchange for a share of the proceeds the FCC would receive when it auctioned of the spectrum. Considering the expense broadcasters incurred preparing for this past summer’s digital television transition, the organizations were understandably resistant to the proposal. Further complicating the proposal, it is unclear how much spectrum the FCC is seeking.
After New London, NH police arrested 91 Colby Sawyer College students following a raid at an off-campus party, I couldn’t help but wonder if our nation’s drinking age and related policies weren’t contributing to the problem of underage drinking. Does barring our nation’s youth from an activity that is widely accepted, even encouraged, for those of legal age create a situation that compels minors to drink? After all, alcohol advertisements and sponsorships are widespread, be it at sporting events (including those at the college level), on roadside billboards, and in print and online publications. When underage individuals are continually confronted with alcohol, does it not make resisting the temptation to break the law that much more difficult?
Last week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case testing prosecutors’ immunity from lawsuits where misconduct, or outright fraud, is concerned. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported on a lawsuit that seeks to test the limits of judicial immunity. While the two cases deal with very different circumstances, the potential outcomes raise many of the same concerns and highlight the need for reform.