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  • Components of Ethical Investment - 19 December 2014
  • The general perception that making money and ethical investment are mutually exclusive concepts has become outdated as many publicly traded companies take into account the expectations of increasingly ethical consumers and investors. Also, with investors being more aware of the need for transparency, companies are unlikely to get away with 'greenwashing' their products, services and strategies. Investors are in the position to influence companies to find ways to make money while doing what is best for the environment and society, and many are tapping into this advantage.

  • Comcast-TWC Merger Raises Consumer Concerns - 27 February 2014
  • Comcast's $45 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Cable has raised a host of objections from various consumer and social action groups, with the main concern being that the merging of the two companies would dominate the cable television and broadband industry, edging out competition and leaving consumers with fewer choices. The combined company would have up to 33 million cable subscribers and close to that number of broadband users, a scenario which could give it the power it needs to influence networks with regard to licensing fees, as well has being able to set market rates on its products and services.

  • Google's Buyout of Nest Raises Privacy Concerns - 16 January 2014
  • Google's announcement that it's buying Nest Labs for the amount of $3.2 billion has raised a number of concerns, particularly regarding privacy within one's own home. Described as the 'next generation thermostat', the Nest Thermostat claims to reduce a household's heating and cooling bills by up to 20%, and it does this by learning the schedule of the household and adjusting accordingly. It can also be controlled from a phone. Many consumers are concerned that unhindered access to Nest Thermostats will allow Google to gather even more information about internet users, to use or share to its own advantage. Co-founder of Nest, Matt Rogers has assured consumers that the company's privacy policy limits the use of customer information to improving the products and services of Nest, going on to say that this policy will not change and Nest will remain an independent brand.

  • Volcker Rule Set to Take Effect in April 2014 - 12 December 2013
  • Described by President Barack Obama as "a rule that makes sure big banks can't make risky bets with their customer's deposits", the Volcker Rule forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and is named for the man who proposed it – former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. A number of exceptions to the Volcker Rule are included in the Dodd-Frank law, but its main aim is to prevent the type of speculative activity which played a major role in the 2007-2010 financial crisis. The Volcker Rule was originally scheduled to come into effect with the Dodd-Frank law on July 21, 2012, but was delayed for various reasons, and is now scheduled to come into effect on April 1, 2014.

  • Financial Crisis Accountability on the Cards - 22 August 2013
  • The recently released results of the review of the 2008 financial crisis by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed that federal and state insurance regulators helped to minimize the economic turmoil and maintain general stability in the market. The GAO found that, with a few exceptions, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on policyholders and insurers were limited. A coalition of state regulators under the banner of the National Association of Insurance Commissions took action during the crisis by insisting on detailed reports from insurers, as well as altering reporting rules and criteria for determining the risk factor of securities.

  • Dodd-Frank, Operation Twist & Wall Street - 22 September 2011
  • It's been a year since the Dodd-Frank bill was signed into law, putting a whole new perspective on the term "too big to fail" and putting the brakes on taxpayer bailouts for failing financial institutions. With the downgrading of the credit ratings of three major banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup – on Wednesday, it appears that the time has come to test the effectiveness of the Dodd-Frank bill. Commenting on the downgrade of Wells Fargo's stock, Moody's noted that, because the risks of contagion have become less acute, allowing a financially troubled large bank to fail is more likely to happen now than would have been the case during the financial crisis. This is seen as a vindication of the stance lawmakers took in passing the bill. Instead of propping up failing financial institutions with taxpayers' money, the federal government has the option of unwinding these banks in a controlled and orderly manner. Each of the three banks in question is required to present a plan by July next year outlining steps for distribution of assets in the event of becoming insolvent.

  • AT&T/T-Mobile Face Antitrust Issues - 1 September 2011
  • In the current economic climate, mergers and acquisitions offer potential for growth, as well as a means to cut costs by the laying off of staff and sharing of resources. The danger in M&A activity is the domination of markets by monopolies, and this is where antitrust authorities step in to ensure that markets remain competitive and consumers have a choice in products and services. The proposed takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T has been big news recently and it is no secret that AT&T was counting on this acquisition to compete with Verizon. But yesterday, the Department of Justice stepped in to block the $39 billion takeover in its current form, noting that the deal would push up prices for consumers and reduce competition.


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