Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

One of the more maddening features of the whole GameStop controversy is the confusion around which side is defending the integrity of the “free market.” Most journalists reporting the story seem to give credence to the idea that it’s the “finance bros” in the WallStreetBets sub-reddit who are defending the markets against the nasty hedge-funds who have rigged it. And in conversation with those reading the headlines and skimming the rest, you hear all sorts of things about the evils of “Wall Street” but the speakers are vague about what that term means, often mixing up hedge funds, with private…


A Center-Left coalition is poised to win; But victory is not assured.

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Last year I launched an experiment in prediction. Instead of trying to predict who the successful Democratic nominee would be or which candidate would win, I framed my predictions in terms of three scenarios for successful electoral coalition. …


By Rick Pasquier, Partner at Practus, LLP

Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

The U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL” or the “Department”) issued a release dated June 30, 2020 in which it proposes amendments to the “Investment duties” rule under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Many early commentators believe that the practical effect of the proposed changes will likely be to discourage pension fund managers and advisors to those funds from selecting investments using criteria that that incorporate express environmental, social and governance (commonly known as “ESG”) considerations. …


What Can We Expect?

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SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has continued to engage with investment advisers, fund sponsors, academics, investor advocates and environmentalists on the problem of environmental, social and governance (often referred to as “ESG”) disclosure. His position until now has been of respectful listening and issuing advice that any changes should be within the context of the SEC’s long-standing approach to “materiality” in its integrated disclosure system, which he contrasts with a more prescriptive “one-size-fits-all” approach advocated by some critics and like that recently enacted by the European Union.

In early March, the SEC asked for comments on the “Names Rule” under the…


Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

When I was a General Counsel, I worried a lot about the records that my organization was creating. I implemented programs to streamline these records and make sure that people were aware of what they were creating, what they were saving and for how long. The rules-of thumb were pretty basic. “Think first before creating a record.” “Pick up the phone before writing an email.” “Scrutinize your address lines to make sure you weren’t including more people than necessary.” “Don’t describe events inaccurately, even in the most casual email.” …


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

When I began my odyssey in election-year prediction in August 2019, I was convinced that the key elements of US economic and policy elite were willing to allow a shift in the center of gravity of US politics to the Center-Left. They would do this if they concluded they had to to build an electoral coalition broad enough reach out to voters outside of the top 10% in income and wealth. To do anything less would be to leave these folks politically homeless and allow the the forces of Right-Nationalism that had transformed the Republican Party to squeak through to…


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

When I began this experiment in prediction in August 2019, I believed that the most likely scenario to emerge from the 2020 election would be the shift of American politics to the Center-Left. I saw this a as a way for internationally-minded elites to dump Trump and shore up the rules-based-international order. The coalition would unite traditional business leaders with scientists, environmentalists and other academically-trained experts who understood that in order to win in a two-party system with an electoral college, substantial efforts would need to be made to address the sources of anxiety suffered by people in the lower…


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“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

John Maynard Keynes

Back in the 1980s, the Austrian political economist Joseph Schumpeter suddenly came back into fashion. As neoliberal reforms were introduced under the Carter and Reagan Administrations to “unleash the dynamism” of markets and private enterprise, journalists and trained economists grew fond of quoting Schumpeter’s mantra about the need for “creative destruction” to push the engine of economic growth forward. Schumpeter’s ideas were used to justify scaling back the scope of antitrust enforcement so that innovation could be encouraged among the “winners” in a competitive economy. …


Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

It certainly seems like there is a great deal going on in politics. Impeachment investigations, polls, debates etc. But the daily flood of news masks a certain stability in the current race for President. Every day there are multiple “blockbusters” about the impeachment investigation, and indeed we know somewhat more about the circumstances around the President’s call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. But the overall political landscape remains strikingly the same. The President remains popular with his base which is between 35–40% of the national electorate and possibly bigger pockets of support in key swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania…


Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

What a difference one week makes! The media dialog about the 2020 Presidential race had been all about weighing the probabilities of the Democrats nominating one of its two progressive candidates and the degree to which this increasingly likely scenario would affect the Democrats’ chances to beat Donald Trump, recover ground in the Senate and maintain their control of the House of Representatives. The leak of the existence of a whistleblower complaint to the Washington Post now has replaced this speculation with a wholly new question. How likely is it that the Democratic majority in the House will impeach the…

Richard Paul Pasquier

Partner at Practus, LLP, a law firm. Rick advises clients on issues at the intersection of business strategy, law and political economy.

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