A Note by Mackenzie Morgan

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As technology has continued to advance, so have company reward programs. In 2021, Starbucks customers loaded $11 billion onto mobile Starbucks Cards,[1] accounting for almost half of all Starbucks sales.[2] The amount of money consumers have loaded onto their mobile applications to prepay for their coffee orders has allowed Starbucks to overtake most banks in terms of assets.[3] “85% of US banks have less than $1 billion total in assets, illustrating the major player Starbucks has become in this space.”[4] Should the billions of dollars that consumers have uploaded onto Starbucks Cards be regulated by the federal government?

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A Note by Rema Marie Kodaimati

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The global debt levels have reached new records despite the massive technological advances made in recent decades.[1] The current global debt has reached approximately 350% of the global GDP, or the equivalent of $37,500 per person in the world.[2] Although international economists have forecasted that the global economy will continue to grow in 2023, albeit at a decreased rate of 2.7% from the 6% of 2021, their predictions are based upon gross domestic product, (“GDP”),[3] a metric that is often criticized as misrepresenting the true state of economic health or the general well-being of societies.[4] Looking at the debt levels within the United States alone, circumstances do not appear to be any better as federal borrowing has practically reached the nearly $31 trillion national cap, with the Treasury Department using latch ditch accounting maneuvers … Read the rest


A Note by Amanda Holme

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At the Aspen Security Forum, Gary Gensler, chair of the SEC, compared the state of cryptocurrency regulation to the “Wild West,” noting its lack of investor protection.[1]  Gensler has continued to repeat the “Wild West” metaphor when discussing the challenges and lack of cryptocurrency regulation, which leave individual investors and financial markets vulnerable to fraud.[2] Although the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) have used existing laws to regulate cryptocurrencies, Congress has not enacted legislation specifically targeting them.[3]  Currently, no single U.S. regulatory authority governs private cryptocurrency exchanges.[4] Since the majority of cryptocurrency activity occurs beyond the boundaries of government regulation, Gensler worries about the continued potential for crime, financial instability, and threats to national security.[5]

[1]Read the rest

MARKET MANIPULATION OR JUST DUMB MONEY? The GameStop Stock Spike and What Happens Next

A Note by Samuel Barder

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On December 9, 2019, GameStop Corp. revealed a troubling third quarter earnings report.[1] Net sales had dropped 30% compared to the same time in 2019, and the company was operating at a $63 million loss for the quarter.[2] The next day GameStop shares (“GME”) tumbled by 20% to close at $13.66 per share.[3] On January 27, 2021, the stock closed at $347.51 per share, a 1,735% increase from since the beginning of the year.[4] Two days before GME peaked at $483.00 per share during morning trading.[5] How did this happen?

The rapid rise in GME shares pitted pros against joes as institutional players, hedge funds, and investment professionals lined up on one side and retail investors, online traders and small brokerages, on the other.[6] One prominent investor said the retail investors, often labeled “dumb money” … Read the rest

Is Your Bank Account Safe? Financial Institutions’ Bad Faith Malpractice

By Claire Chung

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This Note argues that a poisonous culture in the banking industry, to indiscriminately profit by cutting legal and ethical corners, led to the Wells Fargo scandal in 2016. Wells Fargo had wrongfully profited by incentivizing its employees to meet sales quotas by creating phony accounts using confidential customer information without consent. Although the employees acted alone, liability lies on the employer, Wells Fargo, under the theory of respondeat superior. In doing so, Wells Fargo violated unfair and deceptive financial practices law. Also the scandal raised the issue of whether the mandatory arbitration clause in a financial product purchase agreement should be enforced against consumers or not. This Note proposes a multifaceted solution to address the pandemic of bad faith banking practices.… Read the rest

Lack of Legal Duty to Fill Vacancies on the United States Export-Import Bank’s Board of Directors May Destroy Ex-Im Bank

By Michal Nowicki

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This Note examines whether the President of the United States has a statutory duty to nominate candidates to fill vacancies on the United States Export-Import Bank’s five-person Board of Directors. With only two of the five seats occupied, Ex-Im Bank’s Board of Directors cannot currently approve the financing of large export credit transactions, because at least three board members must be present to establish quorum for conducting official business. As a result, the Bank’s power is severely limited. Although this Note argues that President Trump is not legally obligated to fill Ex-Im Bank board vacancies, it offers an argument the Bank’s supporters can use to persuade President Trump to restore the agency to its full potential.… Read the rest

The Agency Problem of Lehman Brothers’ Board of Directors

By: Young Ah Kim


Lehman Brothers is often cited as an example of corporate governance failure largely due to poor oversight by the board.[1] Richard Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers during its bankruptcy in 2008, still does not agree with this general evaluation. Seven years later in 2015, he gave a speech at a conference in New York.[2] Fuld spoke about Lehman’s risk management, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal: “Regardless of what you heard about Lehman’s risk management, we had 27,000 risk managers because they all had a piece of the firm.”[3] The problem, however, remains that Lehman’s employees owned a very small portion of the company stock, which did not solve its agency problem.

Lehman Brothers had a high-leverage, high-risk-taking business strategy supported by limited equity.[4] For instance, it took its leverage ratio up to 30 times its equity.[5]Read the rest

A Fiduciary Duty Requirement for Financial Professionals is Great, in Theory

By: Joe Zender

On April 6, the Department of Labor released a new regulation pertaining to the duties owed by financial advisors to their clients.[1] The new regulation, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2018, transforms fundamental aspects of the financial services industry.[2]  The new rule, called a fiduciary duty rule, requires financial professionals to act in the best interest of their clients.[3] While a savvy investor or an ethical advisor may have already required this as part of their relationships, many retail investors do not know the ramifications of such a duty. The new rule forces this type of duty.  Opponents of the rule argue that the new regulation will increase costs across the financial services industry, which could force small budget investors out of the advising market, during a time when they could use it. At the same time, those who … Read the rest

Third-Party Litigation Finance: Leveling The Playing Field or Overstepping Ethical Boundaries?

By: Alexander Karl

A teacher of mine once described capitalism as taking piles of money and making them grow. While this is a somewhat elementary definition, the idea is on the right track. The American economy proudly boasts of its capitalist background. We paint a picture (though some say it’s wrongly painted) in which an immigrant with no money to his name can strike it rich with a little sweat and elbow grease. Capitalism and its general principles resonate with many Americans to this day as they are finding new unique ways to watch their piles of money grow. As many Americans have figured out, there is no better way to grow your money than investments. When pondering the investments prevalent within today’s society a few come to mind such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and gold. However, capitalists are always on the cutting edge of new investment trends and … Read the rest

Two Sides of the Same [Bit]coin: Why Regulating Bitcoin Works in Its Favor

By: Amanda Maslar

          The reality of the most notorious virtual currency is that it is only a matter of time before it comes under the purview of a regulatory body.  Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that exists entirely online; it is partially anonymous and affords its users rigorous privacy protections in their transactions.[i]  Its online presence is shrouded in mystery, aided by the fact that no one knows exactly who introduced the world to the illustrious Bitcoin.[ii]

            Bitcoin is not pegged to any currency, and its value is dictated entirely by demand.[iii]  Central banks around the world have used monetary policy tools to manipulate the money supply and the value of currency throughout history; the Federal Reserve, however, has in recent years engaged in aggressive policies to stabilize the U.S. dollar, which has concerned some who fear inflation and a devaluation of the U.S. currency.[iv]  Many people Read the rest