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SEC Passes Natural Resource Transparency and Conflict Minerals Rules: The Glass is Fuller than Expected

By Kaufmann | August 31, 2012 | No Comments »

 Over two years ago, Congress adopted Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Financial Reform Act, which focuses on conflict minerals and natural resource transparency. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was tardy in issuing the implementing regulations, but it passed both rules this past Thursday— more than 450 days past its April 2011 deadline.

A lot is at stake for citizens in dozens of countries, for investors and for multinational companies. Section 1502 mandates that U.S. companies sourcing minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjacent countries perform due diligence on the source and chain of custody of minerals and disclose whether they use conflict minerals…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, capture, Corruption, financial crisis, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency | Read and Submit Comments

SEC’s Day of Reckoning on Transparency: Dodd-Frank Section 1504 on Disclosure of Natural Resource Revenues

By Kaufmann | August 21, 2012 | No Comments »

   Following a very lengthy delay, tomorrow, August 22nd, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will finally issue the detailed implementing rules on natural resource transparency in Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act adopted by Congress in July 2010.   Specifically, Section 1504 stipulated that companies in extractive industries listed in U.S. exchanges would be required to report payments made to governments around the world.

This may sound clear enough, but as often is the case the devil will be in the details. Tomorrow those details will be in the hands of the SEC and will determine whether ‘effective transparency’ is attained or continues to remain elusive. Namely the SEC will determine whether the information that needs to be disclosed by companies is sufficiently detailed, relevant and accessible, enabling effective monitoring and analysis by civil society, investors and government reformists…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, capture, Corruption, financial crisis, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

U.S. Obsession with Guns, Uninterrupted: A Case Study on the Capture of Politicians?

By Kaufmann | July 22, 2012 | 1 Comment »

     The terrifying massacre during the midnight opening of the Batman movie in Aurora, near Denver, is another reminder that guns kill.   It is also another reminder of the failure of U.S. politicians to act on it.  Unfortunately, those gruesome reminders are frequent in the U.S., making the impotence of politicians to act even more self-evident.  Most of the industrialized and emerging countries of the world, and their citizens, understand that guns, and semi-automatic assault weapons, do kill, of course.  They have acted on it.

I have written about the topic before, such as here on gun killings in U.S. Universities, and here another blog entry among others showing a table with data on the extent of gun ownership and on gun homicides in the U.S. compared with other countries.  So at this juncture let me just point to selected data provided by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and offer one thought on political capture…

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Topics: capture, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law | 1 Comment

Job Transition: heading (to) the Revenue Watch Institute

By Kaufmann | June 15, 2012 | No Comments »

     I wanted to quickly share the news with fellow bloggers and readers on my upcoming job transition, to take place in the early fall.   At that point I will head the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and will cease being a resident fellow at Brookings.

I am mindful that nowadays improved governance of oil, gas and minerals is the critical development challenge for dozens of countries around the world.    So it is such a privilege to be asked to lead Revenue Watch, an organization with great people which plays a key role in promoting policy reforms and transparency by governments and corporations in the natural resource sector…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, capture, Corruption, financial crisis, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Putin President Again: A Wake-Up Call to the World?

By Kaufmann | March 4, 2012 | 1 Comment »

  Vladimir Putin is about to be re-elected, yet again, as President of Russia.  He already served as President twice, over the 2000-2008 period, to then immediately ease himself into the Kremlin’s Premiership for the past four years, awaiting his next term as President, which is about to begin. 

His new term is expected to last six years this time around, since the Russian constitution was amended to permit a longer presidency.  If he seeks and wins reelection in 2018, Putin could be president until 2024 and effectively rule Russia for over two decades.  He would have served longer than any Russian leader besides Stalin…

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Topics: capture, Corruption, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public-Private Linkages, Rule of Law, Voice and Human Rights | 1 Comment

Conviction of Spain’s Superjudge Garzon: An indictment of its own judiciary?

By Kaufmann | February 15, 2012 | No Comments »

                                                       The recent conviction (ostensibly for ordering jailhouse witetaps) of Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who took on corrupt officials, despots, terrorists and human rights violators during the Franco regime, casts a dark shadow on Spain’s judiciary and hints at a political witch-hunt. 

In October 1998, Judge Garzón catapulted to prominence when he broke with traditional international law and tried to extradite the former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet from the United Kingdom, where he was receiving medical treatment, to Spain…

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Topics: capture, Corruption, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Rule of Law, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Russia and China Leadership Props Syria’s Assad

By Kaufmann | February 7, 2012 | No Comments »

  This past Saturday the world saw harrowing media accounts of the massacre perpetrated by the Syrian government’s bombardment of civilians in the city of Homs. The massive artillery barrage, which has continued since then, have  left many hundreds of people dead, making it the most deadly attack of the year-long uprising.

Homs had already suffered from recent violence, but had not previously experienced such a horrific assault on civilians. On the same day, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) failed to adopt a resolution condemning the violence in Syria, even though 13 out of the UNSC’s 15 country members supported the resolution…

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Topics: Corruption, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Rule of Law, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Iran’s Ahmadinejad warmly welcomed in Latin America, or not quite?: Misgovernance in one chart

By Kaufmann | January 14, 2012 | 2 Comments »

  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Latin America has received wide coverage.  Much is being written about the fact that the President of Iran, increasingly isolated around the world, can count on a warm welcome in one continent, Latin America, providing him with excellent photo-ops embracing the region’s leaders, thereby stinging the U.S.

It is however misleading to group Latin America as one.

The bottom line is that Iran’s Ahmadinejad is being welcomed in only four countries.  And the four welcoming countries exhibit very poor levels of governance, very much like Iran…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, capture, Corruption, Measurement Frontiers, Voice and Human Rights | 2 Comments

Transparency, Conflict Minerals and Natural Resources: Debating Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act

By Kaufmann | December 20, 2011 | No Comments »

With a focus on conflict minerals and natural resource transparency, Sections 1504 and 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Financial Reform Act are unrelated to the U.S. banking system.

Yet they have stirred up controversy. As is often the case with provisions that aim at changing the rules of the game, Sections 1502 and 1504 have pitted stakeholders that support their passage and full implementation against the interests of those that wish to water them down or greatly delay their implementation. Last Tuesday, Brookings and Global Witness hosted an event at the National Press Club to examine the debate surrounding these two provisions*…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, capture, Corruption, financial crisis, G-20, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Transparency in Natural Resources and Conflict Minerals: What We May Not Know About Dodd-Frank

By Kaufmann | December 9, 2011 | No Comments »

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is the very well known piece of legislation that intends to regulate the U.S. financial market. The debate over the act and its implementation continues and I have contributed to that discussion in previous postings.

Yet, what is not so well known is how the Dodd-Frank Act extends beyond Wall Street and even the rest of the United States. There are two provisions in it that are intended to promote transparency and governance in natural resources in countries outside the United States…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, Corruption, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Judge Rakoff Challenge to the S.E.C.: Can Regulatory Capture be Reversed?

By Kaufmann | December 3, 2011 | No Comments »

  Last Monday, Federal Judge Jed Rakoff issued a potentially precedent-setting challenge to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) when he rejected the $285 million settlement between the agency and Citigroup. The bank is charged with negligence related to its misleading sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities, which ultimately cost investors nearly $700 million but earned the bank a handsome profit of almost $160 million.

Analysts have focused on the immediate and narrow concern of how the SEC and Citigroup will respond to this challenge and on second-guessing what may satisfy Judge Rakoff. Three options exist: the agency could renegotiate a deal with the bank for a higher settlement and insert vague (and non-incriminating) language hinting at the bank’s culpability; it could allow the case to go to trial; or it could appeal the Judge’s decision. Some even suggest that the ruling may result in the SEC pursuing more cases administratively in the future…

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Topics: capture, Corruption, financial crisis, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Transparency | Read and Submit Comments

Africa’s Dawn or Doom?: From Premature Exuberance to Tempered Optimism

By Kaufmann | August 28, 2011 | 4 Comments »

Earlier this summer, President Obama welcomed one day apart Gabonese President Ali Bongo and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to the White House.  Both countries share in common significant oil wealth, weak public institutions, and a large proportion of the population living in poverty.

Nigeria is ahead of the laggard Gabon in terms of developing democratic institutions, and has made inroads compared with its misgoverned authoritarian regims in past decades, even though it still faces considerable governance challenges, such as corruption (including in some provinces) and violence…

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, Corruption, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Voice and Human Rights | 4 Comments

Unexpected Earthquake in U.S. East Coast Spurs a Stock Market Rally?

By Kaufmann | August 24, 2011 | No Comments »

 A rare earthquake of magnitude 5.8 shook the East Coast of the US earlier today, affecting Washington, D.C., New York, their environs some environs, and Virginia.  While an earthquake of this magnitude carries a minimal fraction of the force of the mega-earthquakes experienced by countries like Chile, Japan, Indonesia and Haiti in recent years, it did rattle buildings and nerves. 

And it raised questions about building safety in this geographical area, which is not known to be earthquake prone.  Thus it has not been subject to the more stringent building codes that apply in places like California, not to speak about the large stock of very old structures which exists in the East Coast… 

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Topics: capture, financial crisis, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages | Read and Submit Comments

Congress’ Dismal Performance Need Not Be the Case: A Governance Perspective

By Kaufmann | July 29, 2011 | No Comments »

  According to a Gallup nationwide poll ten years ago, 55 percent of citizens approved of the way Congress was handling its job. That was in March 2001, before the surge in solidarity that resulted in Congressional approval ratings of 70-80 percent following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By mid-2002, the approval ratings were back to pre-9/11 levels, at 54 percent in July 2002.

By July 2009, Congressional approval ratings declined to just 32 percent. Just prior to the debt-ceiling debate three weeks ago, they stood at 18 percent. These poll figures contradict Gallup’s expectation that there would be a surge in Congress’ popularity following the 2010 midterm elections. It had been suggested that Congress’ ratings may rise since that had been observed following some prior midterm elections.  But not quite…

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Topics: capture, Corruption, financial crisis, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Public-Private Linkages, Regulation & Security, Rule of Law, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments

Open Government Partnership: First Steps and the Road Ahead

By Kaufmann | July 23, 2011 | No Comments »

    “When a government hides its work from public view, hands out jobs and money to political cronies, administers unequal justice, looks away as corrupt bureaucrats and businessmen enrich themselves at the people’s expense, that government is failing its citizens,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the opening of the multi-country Open Government Partnership (OGP) Forum last week.  She described the new OGP “as a network of support for those leaders and citizens working to bring more transparency and accountability to governments worldwide. This can be a lonely, sometimes even dangerous, task. But through this partnership, we hope to change that.”..

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Topics: Aid Effectiveness, Corruption, G-20, Measurement Frontiers, Public Financial Management, Transparency, Voice and Human Rights | Read and Submit Comments


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