Grim reaper

Synthetic CDO is back – that is scary!

October 31, 2017

Citigroup is back on the road hawking synthetic CDOs – the  same kind of toxic derivatives that brought us the 2008 great recession. That is scary! CDOs, collateralized debt obligations, are complex derivatives that make big, leveraged bets — the kind of leveraged bets that nearly brought down the entire financial system in 2008. They were sold as diversified investment vehicles. They were not. Many investors were devastated by massive losses.

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photo of Lisa Madigan

Payday lender sued for illegal noncompetes

October 29, 2017

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued a payday lender for illegally requiring low-wage employees to sign noncompete agreements. Under the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, which became effective January 1, Illinois employers are barred from requiring employees earning not more than minimum wage to  agree to a noncompete agreement.

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Celebrate Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler

October 25, 2017

Thank goodness for people like Susan Fowler, the whistleblower who revealed rampant sex discrimination and harassment at Uber. Life is not easy for those who are brave and strong enough to blow the whistle. We should take every opportunity to celebrate how we reap the benefits of whistleblowers. You can read Maureen Dowd’s article about Susan Fowler in the New York Times is available here: After leaving Uber, Ms. Fowler published a blog post describing the sexual harassment and discrimination she experienced at Uber. Ms. Fowler’s whistleblower account, available at the following address, details the wholly improper response of Uber’s HR department to Ms. Fowler’s reports.

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head in hands despair

Reduce elder financial abuse by eliminating mandatory arbitration

October 24, 2017

Eliminating mandatory arbitration would go a long way in reducing elder financial abuse by brokers and financial advisors. The Investor Choice Act would eliminate forced arbitration for investors. While it applies to all investors, elderly investors will get the greatest benefit.

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What’s up with Wells Fargo foreign exchange?

October 23, 2017

Wells Fargo back in the headlines Wells Fargo fired four foreign exchange traders as it investigates “forex” trading by its investment banking arm. This is according to a story by Emily Glazer of The Wall Street Journal, available here.

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Woman covering face with hands

Elder financial abuse – public health hazard

October 17, 2017

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified elder financial abuse as a public health hazard. The CDC recognizes the profound impact that financial exploitation can have on the health and well-being of the elderly. The CDC also recognizes the particular vulnerabilities of the elderly to exploitation as physical and cognitive abilities decline.

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tiger logo

Speaking at PIABA Annual Meeting

October 17, 2017

I am delighted to be speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Public Investor Advocacy Bar Association (PIABA) in Colorado Springs this week. I will be moderating a panel discussion on ways to turn an opponent’s dirty tricks to your advantage in litigation. Our outstanding panel of speakers is made up of Hugh Berkson, Peter Mougey, and Nicholas Giuliano. This should be a lively and informative discussion. At the Annual Meeting, PIABA members will meet with regulators from state securities agencies and FINRA to discuss investor protection and obstacles investors face in recovering investment losses caused by broker misconduct. PIABA has many committees that work all year long to level the playing field for investors in FINRA arbitraiton. The PIABA Fiduciary Committee, of which I am a member, has energetically advocated a uniform fiduciary duty for all financial advisors — not just for retirement accounts. Check out PIABA’s work at

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Misbehaving - how real human beings make decisions

Behavioral economics gets why surge pricing can be disastrous

October 15, 2017

Behavioral economics explains why we don’t see more surge pricing. It seems like a no-brainer for Home Depot and other home improvement stores to double prices at stores in hurricane-ravaged areas. According to Economics 101, when demand goes up, prices should go up. But Home Depot does not raise its prices. As Neil Irwin writes in the New York Times, Home Depot’s response to a post-hurricane surge in demand is not only to keep prices steady, but to increase supply.

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Misbehaving - how real human beings make decisions

Behavioral economics improving practices at IRS

October 9, 2017

The Economics Nobel Prize was awarded to Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business — my alma mater. Richard Thaler’s research has transformed the field of economics and public policy. Here is an example of one of the many ways that behavioral economics has changed our lives.

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digital coins

Bitcoin? The SciShow guys explain what it is

October 5, 2017

The SciShow guys made this great video explaining bitcoin. I could not have done it better. Even if you think you know how bitcoin works, you might learn something about this new-fangled “cryptocurrency.”

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