No thanks

So the U.S. has become the model for what other countries don’t want to do with their markets. You’d think our craven regulators might buy a clue from that:

Industry leaders and regulators in several countries including Canada, Australia and Germany have adopted or proposed limits on high-speed trading and other technological developments that have come to define United States markets.

The flurry of international activity is particularly striking because regulators have been slow to act in the United States, where trading firms and investors have been hardest hit by a series of market disruptions, including the flash crash of 2010 and the runaway trading in August by Knight Capital that cost it $440 million in just hours. While the Securities and Exchange Commission is hosting a round table on the topic on Tuesday, the agency has not proposed any major new rules this year.

In contrast, the German government on Wednesday advanced legislation that would, among other things, force high-speed trading firms to register with the government and limit their ability to rapidly place and cancel orders, one of the central strategies used by the firms to take advantage of small changes in the price of stocks. A few hours later, a committee at the European Parliament agreed on similar but broader rules that would apply to all 27 member states of the European Union if governments also give their approval.

In Australia, the top securities regulator recently stated its intention of bringing computer-driven trading firms under stricter supervision and forcing them to conduct stress testing, to protect “against the type of disruption we have seen recently in other markets.”

The broadest and fastest changes have come out of Canada, where this spring regulators began increasing the fees charged to firms that flood the market with orders. The research and trading firm ITG found that the change had already made trading more efficient by reducing the crush of data burdening the market’s computer systems.

Now Canadian trading desks are preparing for rules that will come into effect on Oct. 15 and curtail the growth of the sophisticated trading venues known as dark pools that have proliferated in the United States. While the regulation has been hotly debated, many Canadian bankers and investors have said they don’t want to go any further down the road that has taken the United States from having one major exchange a decade ago to having 13 official exchanges and dozens of dark pools today.

Sheila Bair: Geithner was Citigroup’s go-to guy

And don’t forget, this creep is still in Obama’s Cabinet:

Former financial regulator Sheila Bair says that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was primarily concerned with shoring up Citigroup and other banks in his response to the financial crisis, rather than holding those banks accountable.

Bair went on a media tour on Tuesday to promote her new book, “Bull by the Horns,” about the government’s response to the financial crisis, which she experienced firsthand as a top financial regulator. Bair criticized Geithner in the book, and she aired some of that criticism in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“He was in constant communication with [Citigroup CEO] Vikram Pandit throughout that whole process, and I felt like he and Vikram were figuring out what they were going to do and then trying to jam it on me,” said Bair, who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) between 2006 and 2011. “I do think that a lot of the policy decisions that were made were made through the prism of what Citigroup needed.”

This week with witless Ann Coulter

Michael B. Keegan, on the difference between a provocateur and an insulting ignoramus:

When you put Ann Coulter on TV, she may say something provocative. She is also guaranteed to say something offensive, tasteless, and meant only purely to provoke controversy. These are not the same thing.

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s This Week, appears to have forgotten the difference between provocative discussion and straight-up trolling.

Last Sunday, This Week invited Coulter to participate in a roundtable discussion for the third time this year. Reliably, Coulter managed to fit as many ignorant and insulting statements as she could in her time on national television while shamelessly plugging her latest book. She announced that civil rights are only “for blacks” – not for “gay rights groups, those defending immigrants, and feminists.” She continued, “We don’t owe the homeless. We don’t owe feminists. We don’t owe women who are desirous of having abortions, or gays who want to get married to one another.”

We could spend our time countering Coulter’s anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-homeless rant, but that would be a waste of time. Her cheap attempts at provocation have kept her in the public eye for years but have never, as far as I know, led to a productive discussion. Her attacks on 9/11 widows, women voters, abortion providers, Jews and Muslims are not designed to start an honest conversation. Instead, they were shameless attempts at self-promotion at the expense of decency and civility.

Coulter is a wag without wit whose only talent is for tireless self-promotion. The fact that the mainstream media has to rely om her as a “provocative” spokeswoman for right-wing points of view speaks volumes about how low the media and American conservatism have sunk.

A mayor’s ‘hunger awareness’ moment

The genius economists will tell you that soaring food prices don’t count as a measure of inflation, and so what if their dismal science has nothing to do with the reality of poverty:

As part of Hunger Awareness Month, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton chose to experience what life is like for the 1.1 million food stamp recipients in Arizona.

Last week, Stanton, a Democrat, took part in a community challenge to live on a food stamp budget — just $4.16 to buy food per day, or about $29 per week for one person.

Stanton said he was barely able to meet nutritional needs and lost four pounds, according to Fox 10 News Phoenix. He skipped meals and relied on ramen noodles, pasta and coffee, according to KTAR…

A record 46.7 million Americans used food stamps in June, according to government data. But hunger still is widespread. Nearly one in five Americans did not have enough money to pay for food at times last year, according to Gallup.

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