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Artificial Intelligence Can Be Used To Identify Authorship And Authenticity Of Evidence

December 2013 A recent academic article by the Stanford Technology Law Review demonstrates how machine learning and natural language processing techniques can be used to identify authorship.  Machine learning, a technique developed in the field of artificial intelligence, typically uses computer algorithms to “learn” patterns in large datasets, and then can use such patterns to identify [...]

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Electoral College Statistics Demonstrate That Change Is Both Necessary And Feasible

November 2012 It is time to eliminate the Electoral College.  Voters prefer the popular vote, and the reason for adopting the Electoral College initially is no longer consistent with modern views.  The information in this article identifies that this is politically practical.  Each presidential election draws great attention to the Electoral College. The perennial question [...]

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New FINRA Rules Expand Liability To Customers

August 2012 The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) proposed and the SEC approved FINRA Rule 2090 (Know Your Customer) and FINRA Rule 2111 (Suitability) as part of the process of developing the consolidated FINRA rulebook. These new rules became effective this month. As with their predecessor rules, failure to comply with these expanded requirements will [...]

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IMF Report Tells The U.S. What It Apparently Cannot Figure Out For Itself

January 2012 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently released a report entitled “United States Sustainability Report”.  The report is part of a series addressing certain countries that the IMF identifies as having significant economic challenges that are not sustainable. There is nothing in the report that is jaw dropping.  Nevertheless, with all the political wrangling [...]

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Are The Baby Boomers Willing To Take A Hit To Protect Their Children & Grandchildren?

May 2012 Young people are the casualties of Congress’s unwillingness to address Social Security. Assuming politicians can get agreement that something needs to done about Social Security funding at all, the responses generally indicate that significant benefit cuts cannot occur for those that are in, or nearing, retirement.  It takes a lifetime to prepare for [...]

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SEC Regulations Will Get New Economic Scrutiny

April 2012 The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) is paying much greater attention to economic cost-benefit analysis in its rule making activities.  Private concerns wishing to alter the SEC’s rulemaking should consider using economic analysis and rationale in their comments to a greater extent than previously. What the Republicans could not accomplish legislatively when Dodd-Frank was [...]

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Ignore Investments that Rely On The JOBS Act’s Loosened Requirements

April 2012 With President Obama’s signature, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, also known as the JOBS Act, is now law.  The law raced through Congress with bipartisan support.  Practically every investor advocate and investment regulator is aghast. The law promises to assist start-up firms by significantly reducing or eliminating financial regulatory requirements.  The law [...]

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TARP Receives Another Unflattering Report

March 2012 In March 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on TARP’s Capital Purchase Program (CPP).  The report described this Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) component as follows: “The U.S. Department of the Treasury invested almost $305 billion in 707 financial institutions as part of the government’s efforts to help stabilize U.S. [...]

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CBO Issues Interesting Budget & Spending Projections

February 2012 On the last day of January 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its budget and spending projections for the federal government covering the next ten years.  The 167-page report is full of economic and spending charts and statistics that a firm like Fulcrum finds entirely fascinating.  Recognizing that the level of detail [...]

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TARP’s Inspector General Reports A Reality Different Than The Public’s Perception

February 2012 The Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) has the statutory duty to conduct, supervise and coordinate audits and investigations of any actions taken under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.  SIGTARP just issued a report to Congress, dated January 26, 2012. SIGTARP summarizes its responsibilities and related accomplishments as follows: [...]

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Torturing Ourselves With Repetition And Complexity In Accounting Disclosure

November 2011 Accounting firm KPMG and the Financial Executives Institute sponsored a study of the complexity in U.S. financial reporting. Aptly entitled “Disclosure Overload and Complexity: Hidden in Plain Sight”, the report found that there was ample reason for changes in accounting disclosures. This is hardly a revelation to anyone involved with either preparing this [...]

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IRS Continues To Mismanage Refundable Tax Credits

November 2011 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Section 1004 of the economic stimulus law) provides for a refundable tax credit known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).  The AOTC allows taxpayers to receive a credit for higher education expenses up to $4,000.  The first 40% of the qualified expenses is refundable, [...]

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Audit Report Discloses $4.2 Billion Annually Is Paid To Illegal Aliens Through A Refundable Tax Credit, With Practically No Offsetting Tax Revenues

September 2011   Undocumented workers in the United States received refundable tax credits totaling $4.2 billion in 2010, an amount which is dramatically higher than occurred previously.  An audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recommended changes in how these payments are made.   The IRS dismissed the recommendations, saying (without support) that they [...]

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What Is The Fuss About “Net Neutrality?”

January 2011 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long sought to impose rules requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to continue to offer equal treatment to all traffic. You will be hearing more about this important issue. At the core of this dispute is lots of money. Not atypically, the numerous sound bites being reported by [...]

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Litigation: NASD Proposes Modified Arbitration Rules

May 2006 This month, the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) changes to its Code of Arbitration Procedure.  The changes are intended to simplify and reorganize the language/rules. The proposal makes the following changes: Divides the current Code into three separate codes: the Customer Code, the Industry [...]

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When Combined, Two Studies Predict The Near Collapse Of Employer-Provided Health Coverage Under ObamaCare

June 2011   Two different reports by reputable consulting firms each conclude that more than half of employers will eliminate or change their existing health care plans. The two reports focus on entirely different reasons for the predicted changes. Because of the combined effects of the two reported challenges, there will be few employer-paid health [...]

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Want More Employment? Small Business Asks Government To Just “Get Out Of The Way”

July 2011 With unemployment rates stubbornly over 9%, U.S. employment is topmost on practically everyone’s mind.  Generally, the American economy is barely adding more jobs than is needed simply to keep pace with normal labor force growth. Small business is an important element in any employment growth.  According to the federal government (as compiled by [...]

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Residential Real Estate Declines Become Quite Large …And Are Still Growing

June 2009 The value of residential real estate held by households totaled $22.5 trillion in 2007. By comparison, the market capitalization of domestic equities was $19.9 trillion, and $29.7 trillion for domestic stocks and bonds, respectively. The decline in the value of residential real estate remains ominous. Because comparisons in the value of real estate [...]

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Nevada Attempts To Capitalize On California’s High Taxes

June 2010 Nevada is running another series of advertisements which attempt to woo California’s businesses to their state. Advertisements released this last week mock California legislators by showing them as a monkey (actually an orangutan to be more precise). Here are two of them: The current ads prey on vulnerability identified in a recent survey [...]

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Bernanke’s Press Conference Dished Out Plenty Of BS

May 2011 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke held the first-ever news conference by a Federal Reserve Chairman. The move was an obvious effort to calm financial markets after a string of unsettling news. Some of the questions asked during this Q&A session were actually quite good; others were merely softballs. Financial markets generally took the [...]

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Some Common Notions Of American Income & Wealth Are Wrong

March 2011 Listening to certain political commentaries, one is led to believe that the “rich” are getting richer, while the “poor” are getting poorer. These same commentators tell us that income mobility in the United States generally does not occur. In this context, the “rich” are perceived as a relatively fixed group, consisting of someone [...]

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FCC Moves Closer To Opening White Space

February 2011 On January 26, 2011, the FCC designated nine companies to act as database administrators for licensing television white space. The FCC noted that it favored the database model for future frequency licensing. This topic has not been widely reported. Although there are many steps still to be taken, this may be the most [...]

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