Credit Rating Agencies Dodge Investors’ Lawsuits

By: Brad Fleming*| Guest Writer’s_logo.svg/640px-Moody’s_logo.svg.png

The “Big Three” credit rating agencies (CRAs)—Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), and Fitch Ratings—have come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Meant to provide investors and regulators with credit ratings which weigh the riskiness of various kinds of securities, companies, and governments, CRAs have instead exacerbated the financial crisis by skewing assessments to please their clients instead of providing accurate credit ratings.  In turn, these reckless credit ratings helped the financial system undertake far more risk than it could safely handle. Continue reading »

Coal Titans’ Bankruptcies May Cost Taxpayers

By: Rachel Raimondi*| Guest Writer the coal industry faces declining demand and struggles to recover from several “ill-timed multibillion-dollar acquisitions,” it becomes increasingly likely that taxpayers will be on the hook for exorbitant environmental cleanup costs.

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Driving With No Hands: How Tesla’s Autonomous Vehicle System Escapes Liability

By: Khalif Timberlake*| Guest Writer

As driver assistant technologies have developed, liability from vehicle accidents has increasingly become a topic of discussion. Exactly who should be responsible when these technologies fail and a person or property is damaged? Tesla Motors is widely considered one of the leading companies pioneering the trail of autonomous vehicle operations. Its system, named “Autopilot” can control steering, braking, and acceleration when activated. It uses a combination of cameras and sensors around the vehicle to determine its proximity to other objects and to map the road around the vehicle. Tesla vehicle owners have posted numerous videos online demonstrating showing Autopilot in use. Continue reading »

“Ooh, it makes me wonder” … Did Led Zeppelin Steal “Stairway to Heaven?”

By: Meredith Pace*| Guest Writer nearly half a century, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has touched the souls of guitar shredders across the globe.  The masterpiece is regarded as the “cut that was to FM radio what The Godfather was to cinema.”  Released in 1971 on Led Zeppelin IV, the eight-minute composition truly captures the psychedelic vibes of early rock and roll.  Yet, in later years, the mystical tune will surface not music charts, but court dockets. Continue reading »

Musicians Fight for a Change in Law to Stop Streaming from Cutting into their Royalties

By: Charity Barger*| Guest Writer

By Concerttour – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Over the last several decades, the ways in which music has become available to the public have been numerous: records, 8-track tapes, compact cassettes, CDs, downloaded music, and, now, streaming.  Nowadays, it is rare for a teenager to race to the music store to buy the latest CD from their favorite band.  In fact, CD sales have dropped 84 percent in the last decade.  Downloads, which were thought of as the “industry’s savior,” have been in a three-year decline. These changes are all due to the efficient trend known as streaming. Efficiency aside, streaming has started a fight between musicians and streaming providers.  YouTube has been accused of paying too little in royalties. “Last year, YouTube and sites like it generated $385 million in  royalties. In comparison, vinyl records . . . brought in $416 million.”  With an 84 percent decline in CD sales, the streaming statics are hardly comforting to musicians. Continue reading »

Arbitration: A Double-Edged Sword for Start-Up Employees

By: Michael Fleming*| Guest Writer many, start-ups represent an opportunity to become a part of the next Uber, Venmo, Tinder, or to the most auspicious, Apple or Google.  Employees are willing to work longer than normal hours not only to be a part of something bigger, but also because they are rewarded with perks like daily catered lunches, company sponsored happy hours, and lavish trips.  In 2013, over 47% of college graduates were working for companies who employed less than 100 employees. A start-up’s mission goal, the culture, the pay scale, and the perks are simply too tempting for a college graduate to turn down. Continue reading »

UNIT APPRECIATION RIGHTS When Cash Does Not Equal Ownership

By: Khalif Timberlake*| Guest Writer publicly traded companies (“PTC”) continue to grow both in revenue and profits, non-publicly traded companies (“NPTC”) have found themselves competing for employees. For many employees, an important factor when choosing where to work is compensation. One form of compensation in which PTC have historically prioritized are stock grants and also stock options. In essence, PTC either award stock or present a favorable price at which to buy stock in the company for a particular employee. Largely reserved for key executive employees, such compensation increasingly became an attractive incentive for employees. The benefits also favored companies, for now the employees had an additional incentive to increase the value of the company. The utilization of stock options and grants has incentivized competing employers within the same markets to offer alternative employee packages to maintain and attract desired employees. This usually resulted in an increase in other forms of compensation areas such as base salary, vacation time, insurance benefits etc. Continue reading »

Beer Serious: 500 Years of Beer Regulation

By: Libby Casale*| Guest Writer

There is a German word, bierernst, which literally translates to “beer serious.”  And in Germany, beer is serious business.  Beer purity laws, known as Reinheitsgebot, govern what specifications beer must conform to in Germany.  The law is celebrating its 500th birthday this year.

Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria issued the regulation in 1516, and some regard it as the oldest currently valid consumer protection law in the world.  The law was aimed at quality in sixteenth century breweries.  Beer was a dietary staple, and breweries in the sixteenth century were not very hygienic.  Brewers often added questionable ingredients, such as wood shavings and roots to their beers.  The laws also helped protect consumers from high prices. Continue reading »

USA Binges Pokémon Go while World Waits

By: Rachel Raimondi*| Guest Writer

It’s beginning to look a lot like the ‘90s.

On July 6, Pokémon Go launched using smartphone cameras to create an “augmented reality” in which animated, mystical creatures originally introduced in 1996 are displayed in real-life settings like parks, offices and living rooms.  GPS puts players’ human avatars on a real map of their surroundings and encourages local exploration and exercise on the quest to “catch ‘em all.” Continue reading »

Insider Trading & Gambling Debts Taint Phil Mickelson

By: Dominic Interlicchia*| Guest Writer

On May 19, 2016, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced insider trading charges against Billy Walters, a well known Las Vegas sports gambler, as well as insider trading charges against Tom Davis.  Davis is the former chairman of the board of Dean Foods, the largest provider of fresh milk in the United States.  Andrew Ceresney also announced Phil Mickelson as a relief defendant to repay the benefits he received from the stock deal as well as interest. Continue reading »