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  • The Office of Thrift Supervision - 25 March 2010
  • For millions of US citizens the image of the ‘American Dream’ includes a home of their own, and in the past eighteen months or so that has become a thing of the past for many who owned homes, and a seemingly unreachable goal for would-be homeowners. One of the agencies charged with regulating financial institutions who offer US citizens the possibility of owning a home, is the Office of Thrift Supervision. Stated on its website: "The OTS supervises a national thrift industry that is built on the bedrock of the American dream of homeownership – supplying affordable home financing for Americans from all walks of life." While this sounds great in theory, is it working?

  • The Role of the OCC in Banking Regulation - 22 March 2010
  • It is widely anticipated that Republicans will be offering hundreds of amendments to the financial oversight reform bill put forward by Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. This indicates that there is a long road ahead in hashing out the details of the bill, and casting doubts on whether, in the likelihood of non-support by Republicans, Democrats will be able to gather the required 60 votes to take it to the next level – the Senate. One of the changes proposed by the Dodd's bill is for the Federal Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to take over regulating regional and community banks with assets below $50 billion, which is currently being done by the Federal Reserve.

  • Fed Expected to Relinquish Oversight of Smaller Banks - 18 March 2010
  • Following the unveiling of a bill initiated by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd outlining financial oversight reforms, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took the opportunity of appearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday (17 March) to defend the necessity for the Fed to retain its broad authority over banks of all sizes. In a prepared statement presented before a congressional hearing, Bernanke emphasized that the Central Bank's authority to supervise and regulate all banks, irrespective of their size, plays a significant role in improving the effectiveness of monetary policies, as well as carrying out its central banking functions, and thereby promoting financial stability.

  • Should Investors Fear Upcoming Quadruple Witching Hour? - 15 March 2010
  • As we enter the third week of March, a number of reports and events are likely to have an impact on stock market investor decision making in the upcoming week, with Friday being of particular interest as the so-called "Quadruple Witching Hour" takes place. This event, which happens on the third Friday of March, June, September and December each year, sees the simultaneous expiry of contracts for stock index options, stock index futures, stock options and single stock futures.

  • Legislation Proposed to Regulate Financial Advisors - 8 March 2010
  • With almost a year having passed by since the US market hit its lowest point in the financial crisis of the past eighteen months or so, investors remain on their guard. Although the US economy is showing signs of recovery, progress is frustratingly slow, and appears set to continue that way at least for the coming few months. Last week's economy-based news revealed that the momentum of job losses is slowing down, which had a positive effect on the market. However, concerns about the debt crisis in Europe, more specifically in Greece, along with indications that the US housing market is still in a slump, and China’s initiatives to put the brakes on its booming economy, are reason enough for investors to err on the side of caution.

  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act – Protecting Investor Interests - 4 March 2010
  • Enacted as a United States federal law on July 30, 2002, in response to the much-publicized financial scandals of corporate public companies such as Enron, Adelphia, Tyco International, WorldCom and Peregrine Systems, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is named after US Senator Paul Sarbanes and US Representative Michael G. Oxley who initiated it. Known in the US Senate as the 'Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act' and in the House as the 'Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act', it is more commonly referred to simply as Sarbox, or SOX.

  • Fairtrade – Promoting Sustainable Development - 1 March 2010
  • Closely linked to the principles of ethical consumerism, green brands and sustainable development, are the principles of Fairtrade. All of which may have some impact on eco-conscious investors who have taken the decision to pursue strategic sustainable investing, supporting stock market listed companies with strong corporate social responsibility programs. Recognizing that very often farmers and their workers at the beginning of the production chain, mainly in developing countries, are not always paid as they should be, Fairtrade’s goal is to offer support to these often marginalized groups as they move towards economic self-sufficiency, sustainability and stability.

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