Banks Try to Stiff-Arm New Rule(WSJ)
Yes! More "progress" through obfuscation and accounting manipulation!
A group that includes the Chamber of Commerce, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the American Council of Life Insurers and others sent a letter on June 1 to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, regarding the off-balance-sheet accounting-rule change, saying it should be adopted "cautiously and seek to minimize any chilling effect on our frozen credit markets."
The letter was signed by 16 industry associations, many of which were part of a group known as the "Fair Value Coalition," which was formed earlier this year with the goal of changing mark-to-market accounting rules. Mark-to-market accounting rules set guidelines for banks on when they are required to reflect market prices in the values they assign to hard-to-value securities and other assets.
Now the group of financial organizations is trying to put the brakes on the off-balance-sheet accounting measure, which would force banks to bring hundreds of billions in assets back onto their balance sheets at the beginning of 2010, effectively forcing them to set aside more capital. Some accounting experts say they aren't surprised by the banking industry's latest effort. "Here we go again. They will get out their checkbooks and go to the Hill," says Lynn Turner, the Securities and Exchange Commission's former chief accountant.
What's that saying, those who fail to learn from history are what?
With Japanese Cash, Morgan Stanley May Exit TARP (Dealbook)
Mazel tov, Mack.
House Lifts Lid on its Expenses (WSJ)
Finally a (small) step in the right direction, namely, increased transparency from Congress, purveyors of rank hypocrisy.
The House will begin posting representatives' expense reports online, giving the public easy access to records of the millions of dollars lawmakers spend on staff and items such as catering, cars, computers and TVs.
Separately, Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) said Wednesday he would introduce a bill requiring the expense records be posted online in the Senate, as well. Such disclosures are "something that we will take a look at," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.).
Somehow I don't expect this action to reveal any ruh-rhos or red flags since any "scandalous" spending is no doubt arranged outside of Congresspeople's office budgets (Pelosi's reported frequent private jet usage, for example).
Guidance on Short-Selling Needed: GAO (NYT)
Actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission at the height of the market turmoil last year appear to have reduced abusive short-selling, but the agency should provide clearer guidance to the brokerage industry for applying the rules, congressional auditors concluded in a report issued Wednesday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether information about imminent stock upgrades and downgrades was improperly used by employees at Lehman Brothers Holdings and others, according to a letter released by Sen. Charles Grassley.
Why Ackman Failed vs. Target (Ironfire Capital)
Eric Jackson (remember minority Yahoo! dissenter?) presents a detailed analysis of why Pershing Square's Bill Ackman failed in his bid to install his slate of directors on Target's BoD. I don't always find myself seeing eye to eye with Eric, but he's presented a cogent argument here that touches upon facts I've yet to see discussed elsewhere.
The language from Target's press release includes words like "shareholders appear to have" elected the incumbent directors by a "comfortable" margin. Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chairman, president and CEO, goes on to thank shareholders for their "overwhelming" support of management. Towards the end of the press release, Target suggests it will get around to actually releasing "preliminary" voting results in three to four weeks. Final results will come later, but no timeline was provided. Technically, Target doesn't have to share the final results until the end of August -- 60 days after the end of the quarter in which the annual meeting took place.
I find it insulting to shareholders that companies can get away with not releasing voting results immediately after the meeting. A month ago, Bank of America(BAC Quote), a much larger company than Target, with more votes to be counted, and also facing a large number of dissenting shareholders, provided a detailed accounting of its tally before 5 p.m. the same day as the meeting. Target gets to drag its feet for three months, while posturing to the press working on deadline that it enjoyed a sizable win.
Doesn't this sound more like how a banana republic runs itself, rather than one of the largest retailers in the world?
Take a look for yourself
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