The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as it currently stands, looks like it could be a good move for the businesses and a bad move for consumers. But right now it’s still just that: a proposed merger. In order for this corporate marriage to move forward, federal regulators first have to approve the union–and that’s where it gets tricky. [More]
What Can A Regulator With A Sense Of Ethics Do After Leaving The Feds? Try Not To Become A Lobbyist.
After many years building your career, you’ve reached such a level of good reputation and success that you’ve been tapped to lead a major federal regulatory agency for a few years. Wow! That’s real power. Great job! But your term ends, or the administration changes, and your time in charge of the agency is done. You feel strongly that you’ve got another decade or two in you before retirement, though. So what’s your next move? [More]
When several thousand Verizon customers needed to dial 911 during a January snowstorm in the D.C. area, they were left hanging by the provider. The FCC has asked Verizon to investigate why an estimated 10,000 911 calls were dropped. [More]
Any sort of federal agency to protect consumers from abuse from the financial industry is months, or possibly years, away, notes Linda Stern of Reuters. That’s why you shouldn’t depend on such an agency to protect you in the meantime. In fact, you can take her advice and use it no matter what happens at the federal level.
The Associated Press says that a review of regulatory documents shows that years before the subprime mortgage crises developed into a full blown economic meltdown— the government ignored warnings and listened instead to lobbyists who represented some of the same banks that have now failed.
The next wave of the credit crisis — the skyrocketing defaults on credit cards — is coming in and odd alliances are being formed. The Consumer Federation of America, along with the Financial Services Roundtable ( a self-described “major player on Capitol Hill and with the regulators” which represents the securities, investment, insurance and banking industries) has requested a “special program that would allow as much as 40 percent of credit card debt to be forgiven for consumers who don’t qualify for existing repayment plans.”
A two-year investigation has concluded that most Verizon FIOS installations fail to meet national safety standards, and could cause fires or electrocutions. FIOS is famous for house fires, but New York’s Public Service Commission first started its investigation back in 2006 after several inspectors discovered improperly grounded installations.
Yesterday the FDIC shuttered the 28 branches of the First National Bank of Nevada and the First Heritage Bank. Federal regulators will perform a nifty little magic trick over the weekend, and on Monday, the branches will reopen as Mutual of Omaha Bank. Aren’t bank failures fun?!
Ever hear of IndyMac Bancorp? Well, it’s gone! Federal regulators seized the California bank spawned by Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilowhich, which had giddily doled out mortgages to lenders without requiring proof of income. Rather than blame the second largest bank failure in U.S. history on the subprime meltdown, the charmingly politicized regulators at the FDIC blamed the bank’s demise on Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). Huh?
Wachovia will pay $144 million for helping telemarketers prey upon the elderly. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency spanked the morally bankrupt institution with one of the largest fines ever levied—but before seeing a penny of settlement money, seniors will need to fill out detailed claim forms and navigate a complex bureaucracy.
The federal government continues to bungle the transition to digital television, this time by making it difficult for consumers to redeem subsidy coupons for DTV converter boxes.
Meet The Singing Regulators. Regular FCC employees by day, these mellifluous regulators spend their nights performing humorous sendups inspired by the Commission’s work. Their latest song pokes fun at the FCC‘s utter failure to prepare the nation for the planned February 2009 transition to digital television.
California utilities may soon unveil new conservation campaigns thanks to an innovative plan unveiled last week by regulators. Under the plan, the Public Utilities Commission will set three-year efficiency targets. Utilities that meet at least 85% of the targets stand to collect rewards of up to $323 million. Utilities that fail to meet 65% of the targets could face penalties worth $500 million.
The PUC forecasts that the program would result in $2.4 billion in energy savings before 2008 and would cut about 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide from California’s air.
Regulators from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources zealously enforce a 1941 law that prohibits retailers from selling milk below cost. The law was originally intended to help level the playing the field between small stores and large chains, but now serves to keep the price of milk artificially high. Just last week, state regulators asked the Market Basket supermarket chain why they were selling milk for only $2.59 per gallon. From the Boston Globe:
David McLean, operations manager for the Tewksbury-based chain, said the company would be adjusting its price upward to $2.89 a gallon and may go even higher this week when wholesale prices are scheduled to rise.