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

Friday, August 31st, 2012

 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 […]

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

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

   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 […]

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

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

     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 […]

Job Transition: heading (to) the Revenue Watch Institute

Friday, June 15th, 2012

     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 […]

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

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

  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 […]

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

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

                                                       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 […]

Russia and China Leadership Props Syria’s Assad

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

  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 […]

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

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

  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 […]

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

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

  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 […]

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

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

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 […]

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

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

 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 […]

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

Friday, July 29th, 2011

  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, […]

Open Government Partnership: First Steps and the Road Ahead

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

    “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 […]

Amid Global Crises, Can Obama Make a Real Impact in Latin America?

Friday, March 18th, 2011

President Obama’s tour of Latin America, including visits to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, is starting this weekend.  This visit is unlikely to constitute a historical watershed.  It comes at a time when Obama faces three major crises— Libya’s ongoing civil conflict, Japan’s unfolding triple disaster, and the United States’ congressional impasse over the federal […]

Qaddafi’s Corrupt Influence in the West: a case of International State Capture?

Monday, March 7th, 2011

We know about the story in many countries of low level bureaucrats demanding a bribe to expedite the processing of a business license, or a driver’s permit, or to pay reduced taxes.  For a long time, such administrative corruption has been the focus of research and measurement in the field of corruption.  Administrative corruption is […]

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