Wednesday, December 14, 2011

African Stock Exchange Association meeting

The 15th African Stock Exchange Association meeting was this week in Morocco.

I am so sad to have missed it because I love to practice my very bad French!
I am madly seeking info on where the 16th Annual meeting will be in 2012.
I must attend that meeting if possible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inventive excavations

After many years of conducting and presenting my research, much to my Phd supervisors pain, I have encountered a grand variety of responses to it primarily, I believe, because I am American, white and a woman. (maybe also because I am middle-aged but I deny that!!) People have laughed, scoffed, stared and criticized. I, myself wonder about my place in research on Africa.

I remain outside the mainstream and it is sometimes a struggle to do so. What I mean is that I do not rely on World Bank data (if possible) to support my points. I work hard to find African data from reliable African sources that are outside the Development machinery. This can be very time consuming and difficult. What is exactly the point of repeating what the WB said in its 150 page document on the importance of WB policy regarding securities regulation in East Africa.

I also remain outside the mainstream because I have loved Stock Exchanges much longer than I have loved the law. I am having an affair with the law. This results in 'my skin in the game' being different when I conduct legal research. I do not have difficulty finding fault with the law-I enjoy that. However, I do struggle when I it is necessary to admit that exchanges cause harm. Sometimes I have to do that.

Ultimately, I am not wrapped up in the aid industry either. I like Bono and I give to my own African charities. (You KNOW who you ARE!!!) But that giving is not out of guilt and I never EVER wanted to work for the PEACE Corp....ever. I want to understand how we all get along, or don't, when we are all so different and that is ok according to Edward Said.

"We need a different and innovative paradigm for humanistic research. Scholars can be frankly engaged in the politics and interests of the present--with open eyes, rigorous analytical energy, and decently social values of those who are concerned with the survival neither of a disciplinary fiefdom or guild not a manipulative identity like 'India' or 'America,' but with the improvement and non-coercive enhancement of life in a community struggling to exist among other communities. One must not minimize the inventive excavations required in this work."

Said, Culture and Imperialism

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bank On

I visited the Legal Aid Society of Orange County today. I spoke to the liason there for Bank On.
Apparently, there is a very nice brochure given to the under-banked written in English and Spanish. This brochure explains what the Bank On initiative does.

I think this addresses my concern regarding lack of access to the internet. Anecdotally, the Legal Aid lawyers commented that some clients do have access to Smart Phones and receive Legal Aid that way rather than through a PC from home.

Interesting. We will be working closely will Legal Aid Orange County in the coming months and will report and what we learn!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Financial Empowerment through Financial Education

Financial Education is one of the fundamental ways, I believe, to protect oneself from the next 'bubble' collapse. It has always amazed me that any stock broker allowed an individual to put retirement savings in stocks. Equity has 100% risk. You learn that when you take the Series 7 brokers exam. I believe that the brokerage industry saw so much potential commission dollars in selling stocks that they forgot to educate the customer. the customer of all financial products, even mortgages, needs to educate themselves.

The new Consumer Protection Agency is charged with that task-Financial Education. The Treasury Department on its blog recently described its efforts on Financial Education. It has continued to develop a program called Bank On.

Bank On supports the efforts of communities to help the Unbanked and Underbanked. those are individuals who do not have checking or savings accounts or under utilize those accounts resulting in payments to cash checks, the use of payday loans and the the risk of complete financial failure when things go wrong.

At first I felt like laughing when I read about these efforts. The Fed's are making sure the poor have all of their money in the banks that screwed us all over. Currently, sitting in midtown Manhattan I see what all the banking fees we pay goes towards. Beautiful restaurants few of us can afford to eat in, buildings few of us can afford to live in and many, many, many, many stores some of us will NEVER be able to step into except as tourists oooo-ing and aaaaah-ing over the pretty, pretty things. New York City is the heart of American Finance and it has a lot to answer for. On the other hand so does the Department of the Treasury and perhaps this new effort to develop Bank On is part of that.

Bank On participants include the Federal Reserve, Cities for Financial Empowerment and the FDIC. Bank On connects community leaders with banks, credit unions, savings and loans and non-profits in order to provide guidance to the under banked. In Orange County, California this is done through the United Way. It claims to have opened over 4000 bank accounts and to have increased financial self-sufficiency primarily in Santa Ana a heavily Hispanic city in OC. Bank On Orange County also offers free tax preparation and "asset building opportunities." I do not know what that might mean and I cannot guess. I approve of this effort in theory.

Much of this initiative is online. I find this problematic since the under banked probably do not have computers or smart phones. Well, maybe they have smart phones which might help. Here is a link to some perhaps reliable statistics on smart phone ownership by age group. Here is the Pew Organization, one of the supports of Bank On, stating that only 35% of Americans use Smart Phones. Those making less than $30, 000 a year, likely under banked, only 22% own a smart phone. So, while Bank On is interesting and maybe helpful in theory if it relies on computer ownership or a smart phone, then it is less than helpful. That is if it requires the community of the under banked to find resources online.

Having said that, this is an interesting initiative that gives me some degree of hope. I have long believed that the long road out of this recession, particularly for California, is through community action and effort. Bank On was started in 2006 by the the San Francisco Office of Financial empowerment. It links cities to community services for citizens.

As I have mentioned several times before on this blog. The financial services industry in East Africa spends a tremendous amount of effort on financial education. Many of the mistakes that led us to this recession was a failure of understanding and greed but mostly ignorance in my opinion. This is easily remedied. Hopefully more of this financial support and education will continue in the states. We desperately need it in California.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Play Station Network new arbitration clause

Recently, Sony changed the Terms of Service for users of its Play Station Network (PSN). The new terms of service require that users of PSN agree to pre-dispute mandatory arbitration specifically excluding the right to class action. This type of arbitration clause violates California case law established in Discovery Bank which held that any waiver of the right to class action lawsuit would be unconscionable if three criteria were met: (1) it is in a contract of adhesion; (2) it governs disputes over small amounts of money; and (3) it is alleged to be part of a scheme to deliberately cheat consumers out of individually small amounts of money. The law is not a wholesale prohibition of class action waivers in consumer contracts such as Sony’s. Rather, the law sets a general unconscionability standard under contract law.

The California law is basically a state-court interpretation of provisions in the California Civil code. The first provision of the code prevents parties to a contract from escaping responsibility for their own violation of the law. (see Cal. Civ. Code Ann. § 1668) The second code provision gives courts the power to limit unconscionable clauses in a contract in order to avoid any unconscionable result. (see §1670.5(a)) California has been very progressive in protecting the rights of less powerful consumers forced to waive their ability to litigate through pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses such as the one Sony has designed.

From a business perspective, one can see that Sony desires to put distance between itself and the loss of integrity of its protection of customer data due to breach of its system by hackers. The resulting class actions will cost the Company billions of dollars. Interestingly enough, Sony has relocated to the US following the recent Tsunami in Japan. One can only speculate whether Sony acquired US legal advice regarding the new Terms of Service. The question remains: Is the arbitration clause in Sony’s new Terms of Service valid or does it violate California law??

The answer comes in the form of a recent Supreme Court decision, AT&T Mobility. In that case, the Court held in a 5-4 decision that the California law is pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act. The majority written by Justice Scalia found that the California law “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and obj4ectives of Congress.” According to the dissent, written by Justice Breyer along with Justices Ginsburg, Sotomoyor and Kagan joining finds little support for the majority opinion. The dissent argues that California is free to define unconscionability and that should be of no concern to the Feds as long as the rule does not disfavor arbitration. Justice Breyer reduces this case to the doctrine of federalism at its core. The state is free to pass laws and Congress cannot pre-empt them cavalierly. In AT&T Mobility, according to the dissent, tat same principle of federalism requires the Court to uphold California law and not strike it down.

I am no Supreme Court scholar but I believe that Scalia is woefully out of touch with the realities and practicalities of arbitration clauses in general. This case, as the dissent points out, was not about class actions and arbitration but about contract law application to arbitration clauses. The holding was too pro-business and not enough protection for the consumer. It was a knee-jerk negative reaction to a Ninth circuit decision-more left coast discrimination!

NB-I would like to thank my student Wilber Han for bringing this issue to my attention and discussions in my Management 12A class (Business Law) for clarifying the issues.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tennis: the new World Sport

Once again I hosted tennis players on the Futures Tennis circuit. These players compete to obtain points that will rank them on the Men's Professional Tennis 'tour'. By obtaining points they gain status and can climb the ladder to play in the big tennis tournaments. The big tournaments pay bigger $$.

The Futures pay very little $$. These players work hard to stay fit and compete at the most elite level. They fight hard and then move on to the next tournament to fight again. They are the best of Europe, Africa, India and South America among other nations.

Tennis may not be the World Sport that Soccer is....but who can stand to watch soccer ??
Just kidding (jk). Andrei made me watch soccer too!!

Best of luck to all of the players!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The African Development Fund is supporting a joint project between Rwanda and Pittsburgh based Carnegie Mellon University, creating a new graduate engineering program. Carnegie will initially offer a Masters of Science in Information Technology.

I love this idea! It is so hopeful.
I want them to start a law program and maybe I can apply to teach!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SEC Inspector General

The US Securities and Exchange Commission's Inspector General has indicted the SEC.
Apparently, the SEC has internal control problems offering sweet deals to employees and protecting other from investigation.

See the Wall Street Journal story here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

App for Corruption

Love this app for the phone, mapping corruption.

We need this in the states as well.
I have frequently thought about the increasing similarities between the US and Africa over the last 9 months in Southern California. Here, we are learning to barter, to live with a LOT less money and co-operate better in our community.

Similar to many countries in Africa our government has let us down. In California, we are learning to get by with less cash and more work and less, less, less. More costs for things that were free and no recourse for these increases in our expenditures.

We have to work better together which is not a forte for the So Cal. Stores are closing, SEARS is leaving OC for God's sake.
I think this app for corruption would do really well in Sacramento. Where did all the money go?
All of these years we have been paying into the pot with taxes to the State of California, now it is ALL GONE!!!

I have so much respect for the students of today who are struggling and making do. OC is so diverse and each person I meet who is finding a way forward fills me with awe.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stock Exchange Handbook for 2011

There is a new Central African Stock Exchanges Handbook 2011.
It is published by New Zanj Publishing House in Harare, Zimbabwe.

It covers Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It provides all the relevant info about the respective exchanges.
It also includes the Regional Hard Boiled Egg index. This index measures how many eggs you can buy for US$1 in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

I took a little unintentional break from the blog this summer.
Hope to be able to devote more time to it starting now!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

SADC Tribunal developments

The Judges of the recently dissolved SADC Tribunal have issued communique to the executive secretary of SADC outlining their views about the illegal act of dissolution in response to their ruling against Zimbabwe in the 2008 Campbell case.

An excellent and more detailed discussion of the events and implications for the region are available from this Legal commentator blog.

This is a significant public denouncement of the failure to follow rules that countries themselves obliged themselves to in the name of political expediency. Being accountable for ones actions and responsible for obligations is what mature adults do and mature nations as well.

This is the achilles heel of Southern Africa.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lovers are like buses

...just wait a little while and another one will come along.

I recently caught Newsnight on the BBC. The discussion surrounded vaccines promoted in Africa by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The round table included the CEO of GlaxoSmithkline, Andrew Witty, with Mr. Gates, himself!!, along with the Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr. Richard Sezibera.

There were several critics of vaccines in Africa who provided food for thought to the panelists. Big Pharma and Mr. Gates agreed on everything...saving African Children is important and bad governance is not their concern. Also, the pricing structure seemed to be of some concern. Rich countries pay more, poor countries pay less.

The gentleman from the EAC made me think of the quote that is the title of this blog.
"Ya, its ok for now, we have vaccines and the children live. And why not take affordable medicine??"

Watch both clips on You Tube.
My only comment is that the critics raised so many good points, such as why not put the money to better use...? Why vaccinate when the people have no way to support themselves? Why support regimes that oppress and provide no support to the people themselves?

Mr Gates replied that what his foundation is doing is a solid 'good' and cannot be discounted by such arguments. He was not concerned about his legacy, only that more children survive in Africa.

Very noble.
Africa has had many lovers before him....and another bus is just around the corner.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Africa in World Politics

Please find below a bunch of links for the University of Texas Conference on Africa.
March 2011.

My paper presentation at the UT-Austin Africa in World Politics conference. Video

Here is the link for the entire conference.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Laws Discourse of Dominance

Wishing to distance myself from rah, rah, legal commentators who merely cheer at a victory, I feel compelled to add to the blog some critique of law to balance what might seem to be a simplistic pro-Western, pro-law viewpoint.

To begin with, the victory of the Zim Farmers IS important, but NOT because law is important. If a political outcome had made them victorious that would be important as well. But the law got there first so, OK and law IS important. However, law without the social, economic or historical is vapor, a vacuum and dangerous.

The reason a legal victory in an AFRICAN court is singular, is because it is a voctory in an AFRICAN court. There is scant evidence of Western dominance here. Whatever problems there are between SA and Zim, they are AFRICAN. That is good!

There are fundamental problems with law. Law oppresses and is manipulated by the powerful. Women, the poor, minorities of all kinds are frequently abused by the law in LEGAL ways. A critical assessment of the law is vital in any society.

For example, the U.S. claims some kind of moral superiority in Human Rights which it lectures other countries on. It witholds Aid and asks for rules to be implemented.

Yet, women in the U.S. are underpaid, never compensated for work in the home, which incidentally keeps the economy running, and are bombarded by adverts to undergo platic surgery to remain attractive.

Where I live in Southern California, the newspapers are cluttered with ads for breast implants but I have YET to see one AD, let alone a multitude of ADS, promoting PENILE implants. Why is that and I ask this with a straight face...?! How is this not a Human Rights violation?

A critical assessment of law is vital to an understanding of ourselves and our location in the more universal order of things. The law is a necessary evil. Love and introspection are much more important. The personal and interpersonal are much more vital to our existence.

But that is not the topic of my PhD...I will write the love and introspection paper AFTERWARDS!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My new book is out this summer.

My new book is out this summer.

It is a Business law textbook suitable for Legal Environment of Business courses.

Everyone order it!!

Success for Zim Farmers

Recently, the North Gauteng Court in Pretoria, South Africa, rejected the Zimbabwe Government's application to stop the attachment of it's assests in South Africa. Previously, a set of farmers from Zim had received a valid judgment in the courts of South Africa for the illegal taking of their land in Zimbabwe. The judgment entitled them to satisfaction through the sale of Zim assests, such as houses, in SA.

Now that judgment can be satisfied because of the recent ruling in SA. The Zimbabwe Government in a last ditch attempt tried to oppose the attachment of Zim assets in SA. I have not read the ruling only the news reports so I cannot state the legal basis for the court's rejection of the Zim application.

The legal basis should be that opposition was late and the SADC ruling that this all is based on was legally valid and cannot actually be opposed on any valid legal ground.

This is a tremendous legal victory. A poignant victory given the recent death of one of the farmer's Mike Campbell. As I have frequently said in the blog, all of this has nothing to do with political or racial matters but with the proper functioning of courts and laws. This is important.

We cannot head to the future together unless we all agree that there will be rules and they must be followed. Sure there is oppression and power imbalances. There are problems and there is exploitation. However, we need to start somewhere and then fight for equality. We NEED to stop complaining and BEGIN.

I am so proud of the lawyers who fought this battle. They had better not take a big fee either!! This social good is all the payment they need. Good on ya!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

He left his cell phone behind!

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for an alleged Sexual Assault.

We may never know what actually happened since so many of these events are murky at best. It is very difficult to judge from the outside. What I do think is that something went on that was not right.

My take on the whole situation, with admittedly very little information, is that in the U.S. we have rules about these things and they are very imperfect. They cast such a wide net that they sometimes pre-judge incorrectly. On the other hand, sometimes they over compensate and catch a big fish.

My students worry all of the time about the demise of the United States. We do things so poorly in so many situations. But I tell them to look at the protections we provide. We pass these laws that protect the small and weak. We actually think it might make a difference against the big and the powerful. The law is so imperfect in this arena and yet we employ laws all of the time to protect the powerless.

In the U.S we foolishly try to use the law. Maybe that is wrong. We use it for good and we use it for ill. We do that all of the time.
Sometimes we get it right.

Friday, April 22, 2011

When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.

The North Gauteng High Court reserved judgment in the case of the Zim farmers last week.
If you recall, farmers from Zimbabwe received a judgment from the 2008 South African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal declaring Zimbabwe's land reform programme as unlawful.

The SADC ruling was recorded in the North Gauteng High Court, South Africa in 2010 with an additional order made by the court awarding costs to the farmers. Zimbabwe owned property in SA, free from any diplomatic immunity, was identified and attached in order to be auctioned in settlement of those awards.

The Zimbabwe Government was absent for much of these proceedings until now. The government of Zim has disputed the validity of the SADC Tribunal ruling from the beginning. The recent court proceedings in South Africa are objected to on various grounds such as improper service, lack of jurisdiction, and purported violation of the Foreign States Immunity Act. These arguments are made late and hopefully in vain. The court reserved judgment and should make a decision within the next 3 weeks. This blog has followed the case as best as possible with sometimes imperfect information.

It has always been my opinion that the success of this case, resulting in the defeat of all of the Government of Zimbabwe's arguments, has little to do with politics per se. Success has everything to do with the credibility of the SADC tribunal and the rule of law in Southern Africa. The SADC tribunal is a brilliant creation that makes it possible to resolve disputes without winding up in a local court that might be biased or non-functioning.

In addition to all of this nonsense, the SADC tribunal's status as effectively suspended is unclear.
At the SADC Summit in August 2010, the Council of Ministers decided to review how the Tribunal functions allegedly in order to address the Government of Zimbabwe's refusal to honor the tribunal's ruling against it in 2008. This effectively suspended the tribunal with the judges being removed. In response, two of the Zim farmers. Mike Campbell and Luke Tembani filed an application to have the tribunal back in action. Without a functioning tribunal there is no recourse for those who wish to make further claims against the Government of Zim, according to the application.

In January of this year, mining companies in a dispute with Lesotho asked the tribunal to take the case. A docket number was assigned but there is no evidence of the case on the SADC tribunal website.

Finally, Mike Campbell, one of the Zim farmers in the 2008 SADC Tribunal case passed away earlier this month. No matter what the ultimate outcome of all of these cases I hope he will be remembered for using the law to create fairness and equity for everyone. This blog will continue to watch those developments.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Austin, Texas, Africa Conference and Madonna.

The Africa in World Politics Conference in Austin, Texas was one of the best conferences I have attended on Africa. It might be because there were no lawyers there, I cannot be sure.

The conference had may interesting panel discussions that were robust and exceedingly honest. The attendees were from all over the World. I did get to spend some time with a history scholar from Kenya. His research considers land management in rural Kenya in the 1930's--fascinating.

Austin is awesome, of course. The food was authentic African. (except at the banquet). African music and dancing (by us participants) was fun. The attendees were genial and the discourse lively. LOTS of academics from Nigeria prompting LOTS of animated dialogue!

My presentation went well. I sought some input on a PhD chapter that I have concluded needs more historical analysis on the establishment of stock exchanges in East Africa. It was well attended. There was an amazing presentation after mine by Prof Rhonda Gonzales, from UT-San Antonio. Her research area is Ancient History and she makes it seem very relevant for us today.

Finally, the Board for Madonna's charity in Malawi, Raising Malawi has been dismissed. Her organization is being sued from wrongful termination. The charity was meant to start a state of the art girls school but has failed to make much progress. Maybe Sean Penn had the right idea when he moved to Haiti. Madonna has not made much progress throwing money at her school idea.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Generation of Africans

The African Studies Centre at the Univ. of Oxford have helped organise a conference on Pan-Africanism for the New Generation. To be held 4 June 2011. See the link below which contains an email address for information. African heads of state will be invited along with researchers to address changes in Africa within the context of so many students of African and Caribbean descent studying abroad and facing changes at home.

It sounds fascinating and perfectly in tune with the changes we are seeing in developing countries populations uprising. In tune in the sense of changes that can potentially force us all into a new way of thinking and dealing with some African countries. I am not, per se, a proponent of Pan-Africanism, whatever that is. It has extreme political connotations of Africa at Independence with new revolutionaries ousting the Empire. That is simply too outdated a concept to be helpful.

The focus of any meeting of minds on developments in Africa must include, and the Oxford on does, the students over here in the UK doing research and then what.....

I sadly missed the opportunity to do a Graduate Seminar on my research topic at the Univ of Warwick this week. That School of law has a historical connection to Africa, and particularly East Africa. There are students doing dissertations on every topic including things such as Private Equity, Rule of law and (of course) corruption. I may try to come back in May and do that presentation and also meet up again (I did a similar presentation last year...or two years ago perhaps) with so many East African students who have definite opinions of what is happening there and what might need to be done. This is a new generation of leaders for Africa. Which is primarily the focus of the Oxford conference.

This is such an interesting way to explore moving forward in the region given the recent upheaval. I love the UK for taking responsibility in this way.

I am headed home to Orange County now. My trip here has been very productive. Next weekend, I present at the Africa in World Politics Conference at the University of Texas in Austin.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March is East African Exchange month!

I am in London where an African Securities Conference run by Securities Africa is currently on. It is primarily an event for institutional investors to meet with exchange executives and an opportunity to showcase the African Stock Exchange Association (ASEA). I am not in London to attend this auspicious event, however. Instead, I am trying to save my thesis which is stagnating in a sea of academic red-tape and out-of-sight,out-of-mindness. My pain and anguish does have its rewards.

I am staying in my old diggs on Bow Rd, across from the Bow Rd tube. There is a nifty Tesco Express nearby so I am enjoying some affordable South African, Shiraz and the sounds of East London. The Mile End library of Queen Mary has been completely modernized and is a joy to sit and work in even when it is swarmed with undergraduates. Maybe secretly I delay finishing my PhD so I can make these little trips......not likely. If and when they start paying attention to me at QM, I will finish and come back and attend the theatre instead of visiting the LIBRARY!!!

This Securities Africa conference has allowed the new ASEA Presdient, Sunil Benimadhu, to announce a new (hopefully realised) direction for ASEA as an organisation to promote African exchanges and also inform investors....and researchers....about member African Exchanges. Sunil is the CEO of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius and seems to have a positive vision about what ASEA can do for exchanges.

He suggests that ASEA do the following:
  • provide a pan-African (member) stock exchange index to serve as a benchmark
  • revamp the ASEA webiste so it is up to date and actual informs!
  • serve as a mouthpiece for African exchanges in cluding African governments and regional bodies such as the AU, World Bank

Let's hope all of the above happens and these guys from Mauritius are the ones to get it done!!

Nairobi Stock Exchange

The NSE has purchased a Broker Back Office system worth $880k (USD) from Chella Software of India, which will allow the CMA and the NSE to offer online trading that can also be monitored. This goes a long way to resolving the Nyaga-like broker problem that plagued the NSE in 2008 and forced the closure of several brokers who had fraudulent back-office dealings. (see this blogs very first post) The back office is the heart of any brokerage firm because it clears trades and ensures that funds pass smoothly from client to broke and vice versa. Without a credible back office no broker and no Exchange has the integrity needed to cultivate investor confidence. The CMA-Kenya also established an anti-fraud unit. I need to look at that and will write a separate blog post on it later.

Additionally, the NSE claims that its online trading will draw funds from the Kenyan diaspora and from tech-savy Kenyan youth with discretionary funds. This is huge and a move in the right direction. Online trading is what facilitated a massive increase in retail share ownership in the US. This is not always a good thing if the technology and trading do not also come with instructions. The NSE will also have to provide loads of EDUCATION for these new investors so that the stream continues and does not wither and die on the vine due to terrible miscalculations all of which are aviodable with a little instruction on investment 101's.

Uganda Securities Exchange

Also in March, the USE announced that trading will be exteded to 5 days a week from 3. This baby step is also huge. Order flow should become more continuous if brokers can place them each day rather than every other day. The USE has only 14 listed companies but cross-lists on the NSE as well. This is a positive move, not as mometous as online trading but significant nonetheless. Much like the USE, this move is friendly and measured.

Me likey!!

I am so jazzed to paying attention to this space again. It was wrong to ignore it for so long! I enjoy being back in London. This city is World class and dare-I-say-it, so much nicer than New York. (shocking!!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Assignment, signatures and the Rule of Law

Landmark National Bank v. Kessler* and a recent Supreme Court of Massachusetts case US Bank v. Ibanez**, provide an interesting perspective in to the legal deficiencies of mortgage backed securities. In both of these cases the underlying home owners mortgage had been registered with the Mortgage Electronic registration System (MERS) or assigned to an entity that would allow the mortgage to be part of a pool pf assets sold as a mortgage backed security; all very legal.

What was problematic was the documentation of the transfer or assignments. Under the Statute of Frauds, ay contract concerning an interest in land must be written. Because of the speed with which these mortgages traded hands before they wound up in a Mortgage backed security, the assignment never designated the new assignee. Documents were left blank and unsigned. Due to this, it was unclear who help the mortgage and whom was entitled to foreclose on the property.

These formalities of contract and real estate were overlooked because of the speed with which these mortgages changed hands. Participants in the market were also so enamoured with MERS that they did not question its legal status. All of these activities were driven by market forces and a lack of respect for the rule of law.

The decisions in the Landmark and US Bank case uphold the formalities of contract and the recording of mortgages. These out of date 17th century concepts may be boring and old but they are reliable and create a sense of stability when contracts are challenged and titles need quieting.

The law may be old and outdated but everyone is reassured when it helps them keep their house. Banks should have been more careful. When they weren’t then those homeowners should be able to keep their homes.

*192 P.3d 177 (2008)

** 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Contract implications of the Foreclosure Documentation Crisis

For anyone in the area, I am speaking tonight at the meeting of the Orange County chapter of the National Contract Managers Association. It is $30 for dinner and my presentation! A little steep perhaps but it could be fun.

My topic is the Contract implications of the Foreclosure documentation crisis. So many recent cases have prevented Banks from foreclosing because the documentation was missing, blank or falsified. The focus of my presentation is only on the contract law dimension of that documentation mess.

This way I can avoid trying to understand, let alone explain, arcane title theory, real property and securitization law-which we all know NO ONE in the US understands.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a few more

big deal, it's just like Great Adventure, NJ!!


Beautiful Zumbia

the Zambezi

the Falls

Livingstone Airport, Zambia

Beautiful Zim


so breathtakingly beautiful!

Beautiful Africa

I am so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the Western United States. Every time I see a gorgeous sunset or beautiful crisp morning I am actually thankful. It is Africa beautiful here.

I forgot to post some fotos from a trip to Zim and Zambia. I am so sad and excited when I look at them again. Sad that I am not there but so excited that I was able to see and appreciate this place that seeps under your skin in the most irritating and fabulous way.

Enjoy the next few postings!!