OT: Subprime Mortgage Crisis and The Jungle

As a reader of Gabriel Kolko’s The Triumph of Conservatism, this article strikes an all-too-familiar chord. However, in light of the prevailing market ideologies, it’s hard to imagine that a comparable Progressive response is in the offing — and that may lose us a lot! Calls Grow for Foreigners to Have a Say on U.S. Market Rules

Politicians, regulators and financial specialists outside the United States are seeking a role in the oversight of American markets, banks and rating agencies after recent problems related to subprime mortgages.

Their argument is simple: The United States is exporting financial products, but losses to investors in other countries suggest that American regulators are not properly monitoring the products or alerting investors to the risks.

“We need an international approach, and the United States needs to be part of it,” said Peter Bofinger, a member of the German government’s economics advisory board and a professor at the University of Würzburg.

While regulators in the United States have not been receptive to the idea in the past, analysts said that Europe and Asia had more leverage now. Washington might have to yield if it wants to succeed in imposing bilateral regulations on government-owned investment funds from emerging economies.

After all, how different is selling poorly-documented securities from selling adulterated foods? I am sure the Chinese are confronting precisely the same question, and while the Progressive solution was regulation to protect business interests, it’s hard to imagine any Washington policymaker able to get past the “markets good, regulation bad” mindset that has led us to this pass.

Later: shades of Kolko! Industry asking for regulation! What’ll they think of next? Toy Makers Seek Standards for U.S. Safety. And, even in this article, note the opening rhetorical tone:

Acknowledging a growing crisis of public confidence caused by a series of recent recalls, the nation’s largest toy makers have taken the unusual step of asking the federal government to impose mandatory safety-testing standards for all toys sold in the United States.

An Obviousness Smackdown

Albeit a painful and expensive process — yet one that exploited internet tools: Playing Detective in a Patent Case

“It’s a victory against patent trolls,” Mr. Goldin said. “This has changed the landscape. The days of coming up with an obvious idea and patenting it and using legal extortion are over.”

The Texas ruling was one of the first to apply a new test established by the Supreme Court on April 30 that makes it more difficult to obtain patents on new products that combine elements of already existing patents. Experts say the Texas opinion was certainly the first to apply the new standard to financial services and probably the first to apply it to a business method.

[…] On Feb. 28, 2006, at AdvanceMe’s request, he says, he met with its chief executive, Mr. Goldman, and the president, Tom Burnside, who offered to license their company’s collection methods to him. “I said, ‘I don’t understand how you can have a patent on something that has been around since the 1980s,’ ” he recalled. “They kept saying they had a ‘patent on the technology.’ ”

The next day, Mr. Goldin says, Mr. Goldman called him to say his company had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against AmeriMerchant — on the day before their meeting.

His first reaction was fear. His second was anger. “Losing was not an option,” he said.

Mr. Goldin, 35, said he found out that the only way he could win was to get AdvanceMe’s patent invalidated, and to do that he had to find written evidence that its payment system had been around at least one year before the patent was filed in July 1997.

He started a blog (http://merchantcashadvanceblog.blogspot.com/) to argue his case and appeal for supporting evidence.

Why Solving Copyright Matters

It’s the abusive extension that’s a problem. As this article shows, it serves an important purpose: All the Right Moves — Dance Notation Bureau

The dance world was shocked when, at the end of October 2005, the Dance Notation Bureau suddenly laid off five of its six staff members and announced that it had run out of money. The bureau, the repository of hundreds of dance scores that use a system of symbols called Labanotation to document a vast range of choreographic oeuvres, had been quietly going about its work since 1940, most recently in its cramped offices and archives on West 30th Street in Manhattan. Despite its perpetual need for money, it always seemed to be one of the many struggling arts organizations that somehow manage to survive.

Since those dark days at the end of 2005 the bureau has staged a remarkable renaissance. It has raised more than $1 million from foundations, government and private donors and has expanded its staff to nine. A $500,000 endowment has been established to safeguard its future. The creation of a database and the digitization of the entire collection — including scores, films, videotapes, photographs, programs and posters — have begun, thanks to grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. In addition an ambitious project to notate seven works by Martha Graham is under way, alongside the business-as-usual aspects of checking scores, teaching future notators, and licensing and staging works all over the world.

Amping Up The Rhetoric

How long before we get told “You’re either with us on supporting copyrights for fashion, or you’re with the terrorists?” (Note: This NYTimes OpEd contributor does *not* make that connection, asking us to rely on the “Culture” leg of Larry’s New Chicago School map of control. But I am confident that copyright maximalists are going to make the connection.) Terror’s Purse Strings

At least 11 percent of the world’s clothing is fake, according to 2000 figures from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group in Paris. Fashion is easy to copy: counterfeiters buy the real items, take them apart, scan the pieces to make patterns and produce almost-perfect fakes.

Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Sales of counterfeit T-shirts may have helped finance the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. “Profits from counterfeiting are one of the three main sources of income supporting international terrorism,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

The article goes on to recount all sorts of crimes that are committed by those who make fakes; that’s where the enforcement belongs, not on criminalizing the creation of fakes. All that’s going to do is add the buying of fakes to the downloading of music, breaking the speed limit, etc. — further degrading the status and the role of the law in modern society.