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third party debt orders and paying agents February 26, 2014

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The English Commercial Court (Mr. Justice Blair) has held in Merchant International Company Ltd v Naftogaz and the Bank of New York Mellon that there is no jurisdiction to make a third party debt order (these used to be called garnishee orders) with respect to funds held by a bank as a paying agent for a note issue. The reason was that the funds when held by the paying agent were not owed as a debt to the note issuer. And this was so even though the issuer responded to the judgment creditor’s attempts to obtain the funds designed for the investors by paying further funds to the paying agent, and some of the money was repaid to the judgment debtor:

Though the balance of the money was repaid in due course, I do not consider that this was pursuant to an obligation that was capable of being attached by a third party debt order. This avoids a conclusion that would mean that MIC had in effect itself created a debt by virtue of the action it had taken. Whilst it was suggested on its behalf in argument that it had “got lucky”, it does not follow that there was an attachable debt.

The doctrinal issues are different from those in NML Capital v Argentina but the decision does suggest it may be better to be acting as a paying agent in London than in New York.

miami gable stage antony and cleopatra kickstarter campaign December 1, 2013

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I think they do theatre better than they do video. But the theatre is good, and this production is designed to bring Shakespeare to a wide audience.

next round of ttip negotiations November 4, 2013

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In Brussels November 11-15. There’s a stakeholder briefing (register by emailing your name(s) and the name of the organisation to TRADE-TTIP-EVENTS@ec.europa.eu by Friday 8 November at 12:00 CET):

The European Commission will organise a briefing session for stakeholders during the second round of the negotiations on Friday 15 November. Non-governmental organisations, consumer groups, trade unions, professional organisations, business and other civil society organisations will have the opportunity to exchange views with chief negotiators of both sides.

Meanwhile the CBI’s report, which focuses on the necessity of the UK’s continuing involvement in the (somewhat adjusted) EU is based on the importance of increased global competitiveness:

British business is clear that the best way to be outward facing and globally competitive in the modern era is to continue to use and influence the EU as a base from which to build trading links and maximise interdependence with economies all over the world, whilst reforming the EU to ensure that it allows the UK to realise this global future. Attempting to reverse the process of increasing interdependence and return to a system of bilateral ad hoc arrangements will not create and keep the jobs the UK needs in order to maintain and improve living standards for all its citizens or enhance its standing as a global leader.

football (soccer) and the financial markets February 13, 2012

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A new ECB working paper by Michael Ehrmann and David-Jan Jansen with the title “The Pitch Rather Than The Pit: Investor Inattention During FIFA World Cup Matches”. Here’s the abstract:

At the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, many soccer matches were played during stock market trading hours, providing us with a natural experiment to analyze fluctuations in investor attention. Using minute‐by‐minute trading data for fifteen international stock exchanges, we present three key findings. First, when the national team was playing, the number of trades dropped by 45%, while volumes were 55% lower. Second, market activity was influenced by match events. For instance, a goal caused an additional drop in trading activity by 5%. The magnitude of this reduction resembles what is observed during lunchtime, and as such might not be indicative for shifts in attention. However, our third finding is that the comovement between national and global stock market returns decreased by over 20% during World Cup matches, whereas no comparable decoupling can be found during lunchtime. We conclude that stock markets were following developments on the soccer pitch rather than in the trading pit, leading to a changed price formation process.

high pay commission final report November 22, 2011

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Cheques with Balances: Why Tackling High Pay is in the National Interest.

debit card fees: consumer pressure November 3, 2011

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Sometimes consumers can have an impact on the behaviour of financial institutions. But it takes a lot of effort to energise citizens around financial regulation and this was one very immediate issue of obvious direct relevance to bank customers. Other more fundamental, larger or more technical issues are much harder to deal with, and there’s a danger that citizens will just disengage from these issues. Molly Katchpole writes:

Despite this huge victory, there’s no way I’m ever going back to Bank of America, or any of the other big banks. The debit card fees were a tipping point for me, though I know that these fees aren’t the worst of the banks’ transgressions. Big banks are still behind the merciless wave of foreclosures rocking the country and providing virtually no help to struggling homeowners. They’re not lending enough to get the stagnant economy moving again; consequently, people like me can’t find full-time work. And they’re still spending millions upon millions to corrupt our government with their influence.

eu financial markets competition: uk treasury takes on ecb September 15, 2011

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Newspapers are reporting the UK’s Treasury plans to fight a European Central Bank plan to require clearing of some financial products in the eurozone, threatening UK based clearers. Here’s some relevant language from the ECB’s document:

Given its mandate to promote the “smooth operation of payment systems”, the Eurosystem has major concerns with regard to the development of major euro financial market infrastructures that are located outside of the euro area, since this could potentially place in question the Eurosystem’s control over the euro.
As a matter of principle, infrastructures that settle euro-denominated payment transactions should settle these transactions in central bank money and be legally incorporated in the euro area with full managerial and operational control and responsibility over all core functions for processing euro denominated transactions, exercised from within the euro area. This is reflected in the policy fundamentals issued by the Eurosystem on the location and operation of infrastructures that settle euro-denominated payment transactions.

private top-ups in education June 7, 2011

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Whereas we often think of education as being separated into private and public sectors there are a couple of illustrations recently that private education may operate alongside public education in troubling ways. One is a report prepared for the EU Commission on The Challenge of Shadow Education which focuses on tutoring in the EU. One of the report’s conclusions is that:

private tutoring is much less about pupils who are in real need of help that they cannot find at school, and much more about maintaining the competitive advantages of the already successful and privileged.

At a time of austerity, where funding for social programs is under threat, this is particularly troubling. The privileged can mitigate – for themselves – the damage caused to public education systems caused by spending cuts. And, in the UK, they will be able to think about sending their offspring to the glitzy New College for the Humanities (see Eagleton v Johnson) which will offer courses taught by celebrity academics and (courtesy of the University of London International Programmes (which used to be the external degree)) a University of London degree. I think the fuss about plagiarism of syllabi is a bit overblown, as the work of publicly funded academics should surely benefit the public. The London external program has been running for a very long time, and has some very eminent alumni, including Derek Walcott and Ronald Coase. Not that it is clear that many of the future students of the New College for the Humanities will ever be among them.

Update 3.45pm: In the US my colleague Osamudia James argues that for-profit higher education isn’t as useful to students as the providers claim.

governing for the corporations May 10, 2011

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In the debate over selling extra university places to the rich there seems to be some (but not enough) embarrassment (Guardian again). Vince Cable thinks it is OK if you only sell the to corporate sponsors:

The business secretary, Vince Cable, said he was willing to look at how to expand off-quota places through company sponsorships, but he did not support children of the rich being given priority access to university.

If Daddy’s company, or daddy’s friend’s company, pays then it is OK.

governing for the rich May 9, 2011

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For a moment reading this story in the Guardian I thought it must be April Fools Day:

Teenagers from the wealthiest families would be able to pay for extra places at the most competitive universities under government proposals that could allow institutions to charge some British students the same high fees as overseas undergraduates.

The more you have, the more you get.