Saturday, December 13, 2008

Regulators Napping (Yet Again)

Once again the financial world is rocked by news of fraud, impropriety and deceit and once again the SEC have failed in their role as the police agency for the US markets. This time it's famed trader Bernard Madoff whose lengthy and simple Ponzi scheme has bilked investors large and small of around $50B. Apparently the SEC were tipped about Madoff's actions as early as 1999 but chose to ignore the information and subsequent questions from other investment professionals. Like Enron, Fannie/Freddie, Bear Stearns and a whole host of institutions it was supposed to regulate, the SEC has shown a complete dereliction of duty time and time again. If it wasn't for family memebers turning him in, Mr. Madoff would still be trading today.

This is an organization whose website proudly proclaims:

During his tenure at the SEC, Chairman Cox has made vigorous enforcement of the securities laws the agency's top priority, bringing ground breaking cases against a variety of market abuses including hedge fund insider trading, stock options backdating, fraud aimed at senior citizens, municipal securities fraud, and securities scams on the Internet.

Mr. Cox needs to step down immediataly and his organization disbanded and replaced with one that can actually do the job required. Mad Money's Jim Cramer has offered his services, perhaps we should take him up on it?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Time To Brown Bag It?

Recently Amazon decided to address the issue of packaging. Although motivated by a desire to cut down on customer injuries and frustrations as much as to help the environment it was a step in the right direction. However, today a trip to the Apple store to replace my Nike+ sensor (another piece of less than green technology) prompted me to envision a world where packaging was entirely optional. The benefits would be twofold, firstly a reduction in waste and secondly a cost saving for the manufacturer.

For many retailers like Apple it would be a very easy plan to implement and still give the customer choice. At checkout you could elect to either have your purchase put into the box or merely be given the goods with a suitable bag to hold all the bits and bobs. The receipt could be easily marked so as a return without the packaging would be easily facilitated. Immediate gains in both the environment and the pocketbook. Obviously the issue of display and theft would need to be addressed, however, re-usable packaging could be developed which allowed the product to be removed at the register.