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finance

Stablecoins III: The Stablecoin TRUST Act of 2022

On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, Senator Pat Toomey of Virginia released a discussion draft of the Stablecoin Transparency of Reserves and Uniform Safe Transactions Act of 2022, also known as the Stablecoin TRUST Act (“the TRUST Act”). This new legislation, introduced in the United States Senate, aims to create a three-pronged regulatory framework for the issuers of stablecoins in the United States. Like similar bills on the topic of stablecoin, such as the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022, the bill is short at only fourteen pages long. Where the bills differ is immediately noted in the more robust definitions section of the TRUST Act which lays out a six-part definition of “payment stablecoins” that covers the design intent of a stablecoin, who can issue a stablecoin, whether the holder can inherently earn interest, and where the stablecoin transactions are recorded.

Stablecoins II: The Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022

On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, Congressman Josh Gottheimer released a draft of the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022 (“the bill”). This legislation attempts to both define stablecoins as well as provide a legal framework in which the issuers and users of stablecoins can safely and legally operate. The bill is surprisingly brief, only nine pages long, but Gottheimer claims that it will provide greater direction and certainty to the marketplace in order to boost innovation while also protecting consumers.

Could Anna Delvey Have Gotten Away with It? Bank Vetting for a $22 million Loan

Anna Delvey, the alleged scammer who attempted to obtain financial backing of anywhere from $22 million to $40 million in loans, is once again the subject of much debate due to the new Netflix series chronicling her alleged crimes and other actions. The question this article attempts to answer is whether she ever had a chance of realizing her goal of creating an exclusive, members-only, art club much like Soho House. This question hinges on whether she ever had a real chance to secure the funding to make it possible.

Stablecoins: Tying Cryptocurrencies to Other Assets

Cryptocurrency has an air of mystery about it. It seemingly burst onto the scene a decade ago, and while some of the stories about it may seem outlandish, many of them are true. The first known Bitcoin purchase was for two pizzas and prices can fluctuate wildly based off of tweets. With the origins of such a thing being the subject of internet humor and its value being so volatile, what level of attention and care is due to it?

Insider Trading Isn’t Illegal if You Are a Member of Congress

Jon Ossoff, the freshman Senator from Georgia, has made it clear that he intends to put forth a bill that would ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks. This is a policy that seems likely to fail, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. It is estimated that members of Congress and their families bought and sold over $500 million worth of assets. That’s not to say that all these trades were based on information not available to the general public, but it is clear that there is a massive conflict of interest in allowing law makers to trade stocks when their job is intrinsically tied to making decisions that affect the price of stocks.

FINRA Targets High-Risk Brokerage Firms With New Rule

For several years, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has sought to increase oversight of brokers who have a history of misconduct as well as the firms that hire these brokers. In an effort to disincentivize the recruitment of high-risk brokers, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently approved FINRA’s proposed Rule 4111, which subjects “restricted firms” to additional capital obligations and hiring restrictions. Specifically, FINRA Rule 4111 targets brokerage firms that have exceeded thresholds of risk-related or investor-harming disclosures compared to similarly sized peers. The new rule, which will go into effect in 2022, is designed to provide FINRA with greater authority to proactively address the risks posed to investors by rogue brokerage firms.

The Pandora Papers and the Bank Secrecy Act

The recent Pandora Papers leak in October 2021 shined the light on the massive and intricate web of offshore accounting that allows for insurmountable amounts of wealth to be hidden throughout the world. One of the most shocking revelations of these Papers was how heavily the United States was implicated in creating and perpetuating this system. As such, legislators have been pressured to find a way to crackdown on this sort of offshore money. One way that they have proposed addressing the problem is by amending the United States’ current criminal financial legislation, the Bank Secrecy Act.

SEC Whistleblower Program Surpasses $1 Billion in Award Payouts

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reached a rather auspicious milestone in September when it announced that, with the addition of two recent awards totaling $114 million, the aggregate amount of monies paid out under the SEC’s whistleblower program since its implementation in 2011 has exceeded $1 billion. In fiscal year 2021 alone, the SEC has awarded a record $500 million. The SEC also reported that award payments have been made to a total of 207 whistleblowers. In a statement, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said, “[This] announcement underscores the important role that whistleblowers play in helping the SEC detect, investigate and prosecute potential violations of the securities laws.” The two most recent awards included a payment of $110 million to an individual who, according to the SEC, provided the SEC and another regulatory agency with “independent analysis that substantially advanced the SEC’s and the other agency’s investigation” and culminated in successful enforcement actions. Another whistleblower also provided original information to the SEC and received an award of approximately $4 million, although the smaller amount reflects the fact that the information passed on was significantly more limited in scope. As is its standard policy, the SEC declined to specifically name either of the whistleblowers involved or the cases and companies to which they were connected.

Coronavirus, Compliance, and the Brokerage Industry

COVID-19 has ushered in a new era for the brokerage industry as financial advisors and professionals across the world have been exiled from regional offices in favor of remote work. Numerous financial advisors may continue working remotely whether due to a novel sense of autonomy, elimination of a commute, or perceived increase in productivity. However, the remote-work era has introduced a plethora of compliance-related issues throughout the brokerage industry. Brokers working remotely possess additional independence to determine when to work and how to communicate with clients, which heightens compliance risks because firms are not able to monitor employees as stringently as they were before COVID-19. Federal regulators, including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), are responding to newfound compliance risks by issuing updated guidance and investigating potential violations throughout the brokerage industry.

From Beans to Banking

Starbucks. What comes to mind? Expensive coffee in a nice atmosphere? Mermaids? A warm pumpkin spice latte? Perhaps. However, the words “billion-dollar bank” likely do not cross anyone’s mind. As wild as it seems, the huge coffee company actually has $1.5 billion in assets, an amount larger than eighty-five percent of the banks in the United States. Not only is Starbucks flush with cash, but, unlike actual banks, it can use this money to invest in other ventures, invest in the marketplace, or expand its business. This begs the question, is Starbucks merely a coffee company or will it join the ranks of Bank of America and Citibank?