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Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

The big four banks: The evolution of the financial sector, Part I

Martin Neil Baily, William Bekker and Sarah E. Holmes – Brookings – May 26, 2015.

“This research looks at how the financial sector has evolved over the periods both before and after the financial crisis of 2007-8.  This paper is the first in a series, examining the balance sheets of the four largest banks; it will be followed by papers on the regional banks, the smaller banks and the shadow financial sector. The assets and liabilities of the big four banks grew very rapidly for years prior to the financial crisis as a result of deregulation, particularly through the Riegle-Neal Act in 1994, but also from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. These laws gave banks the ability to consolidate and expand both across geographic and service lines, and they continued to do until the crisis hit years later. Paired with generally robust economic growth, the deregulation of the financial sector enabled the largest banks to post double-digit growth rates right up to the onset of the crisis. The theme of consolidation continued, in a way, into 2008 as the U.S. government encouraged acquisitions of troubled financial institutions by stronger ones during the worst moments of the crisis.  With no clear precedents or protocols for managing the failures of such large and interconnected institutions like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Stearns before the crisis, the U.S. government took was forced to take an ad hoc approach, pushing  these major investment banks into mergers with  or acquisitions by other, stronger private institutions. Likewise, to deal with failing depository institutions, the U.S. government encouraged mergers with stronger banks or dispositions of bank subsidiaries by troubled institutions to other banks, with support provided by the FDIC as required.  As a result, today, the four biggest banks (“Big Four”) are JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.”

Trademark Functionality Reexamined

Bone, Robert G., Trademark Functionality Reexamined (May 28, 2015). Journal of Legal Analysis, Forthcoming ; U of Texas Law, Law and Econ Research Paper No. E557. Available for download at SSRN: “The functionality doctrine in trademark law bars protection for some, but not all, source-identifying product features—so-called trade dress—that contribute to a product’s functionalContinue Reading

Development and Validation of a Smartphone-Based Visual Acuity Test

Development and Validation of a Smartphone-Based Visual Acuity Test (Peek Acuity) for Clinical Practice and Community-Based Fieldwork – JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online May 28, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015 “Visual acuity (VA) is the most frequently performed measure of visual function in clinical practice. Visual acuity measurements are used to establish the need for clinical investigation and quantifyContinue Reading

Search awarded hourly rates for labor categories

“CALC lets you conduct market research on professional service labor categories more quickly and easily. It also takes the guesswork out of cost estimations — all results shown are actual awarded hourly rates from GSA service schedules — helping you make more informed decisions.” [An official website of the U.S. Government]

UN Report Champions Encryption and Anonymity

EPIC – “The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression released a report today supporting strong encryption and anonymity tools. The Rapporteur finds that, “States should not restrict encryption and anonymity, which facilitate and often enable the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.” EPIC previously urged the UN to support secure, anonymous communications, stating,Continue Reading

21.3 Percent of U.S. Population Participates in Government Assistance Programs Each Month

“Approximately 52.2 million (or 21.3 percent) people in the U.S. participated in major means-tested government assistance programs each month in 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today. Participation rates were highest for Medicaid (15.3 percent) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program (13.4 percent). The averageContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Electricity Generation Projects, U.S. Parole Commission

Electricity Generation Projects: Additional Data Could Improve Understanding of the Effectiveness of Tax Expenditures, GAO-15-302: Published: Apr 28, 2015. Publicly Released: May 28, 2015: “The states and the federal government have supported the development of electricity generation projects in a variety of ways. In recent years, state and federal supports have been targeted toward renewableContinue Reading

KPCB’s Mary Meeker – 2015 Internet Trends Report

Internet Trends 2015 – Code Conference – Mary Meeker – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) – May 27, 2015. Outline as follows: 1) Internet – Two – Thirds of a Generation In… 2) Key Internet Trends 3) Re-Imagining Continues… 4) America’s Evolving Work Environment… 5) Big Internet Markets = China/India 6) Public / Private CompanyContinue Reading

Newly-Insured Californians Report Easier Access to Care Than Uninsured

“Low-income California adults who gained insurance coverage in 2014 had an easier time accessing health care than those who were uninsured and increased financial protection from medical bills, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report. The report, funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation and based on findings from the California sampleContinue Reading

The Weakness of the Case for Cameras in the United States Supreme Court

Bruno, Jonathan, The Weakness of the Case for Cameras in the United States Supreme Court (January 5, 2015). Creighton Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2015. Available for download at SSRN: “Many people regard it as obvious that Supreme Court proceedings should be open to video cameras, and should be broadcast live on televisionContinue Reading

Clean Water Rule Protects Streams and Wetlands Critical to Public Health, Communities, and Economy

“In an historic step for the protection of clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule today to clearly protect from pollution and degradation the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean WaterContinue Reading

Federal Reserve Board issues Report on Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households

“The Federal Reserve Board’s latest survey of the financial and economic conditions of American households – Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014 – released Wednesday finds that individuals’ overall perceptions of financial well-being improved modestly between 2013 and 2014 but their optimism about future financial prospects increased significantly. The 2014 SurveyContinue Reading