News – Bates Research

FINRA and Expungement

During its February 2014 Board Meeting, FINRA finalized a new proposed rule limiting the use of expungement in the arbitration process. 

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Municipal Defaults

2013 was a challenging year for municipal markets, with the downgrades of Puerto Rico continuing that trend into 2014.

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Puerto Rico Downgrades Continue

After our post was published last Friday the 7th, Moody's joined S&P in downgrading Puerto Rico below investment grade.  On Tuesday of this week, Fitch joined the other two rating agencies, and moved Puerto Rico below investment grade.

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Puerto Rico Downgrade

On Tuesday, S&P downgraded Puerto Rico below investment grade from BBB- to BB+.  The island had previously been placed on watch by S&P for a possible downgrade on January 24th. 

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A Minimum Wage Increase

On Tuesday evening President Obama used his State of the Union Address to outline key policy initiatives for the next year.  Included among them was an increase in the required minimum wage for some federal contractors to $10.10. 

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Accounting Fraud

The SEC recently announced that it has reached a $5 million settlement related to earnings manipulation by Diamond Foods, Inc. 

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Google Acquires Nest

On January 14, Google continued its push into physical products and away from net-based ones with its acquisition of Nest for $3.2 billion.

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Complex Product Suitability

On January 2, FINRA published its regulatory and examination priorities, highlighting what it sees as significant risks and issues in today’s market environment.  In the area of suitability, FINRA specifically identified complex products and interest-rate-sensitive fixed income products as a focus for scrutiny.

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FINRA and Non-Traded REITs

FINRA is in the process of rolling out new regulations which will govern non-traded REITs, one of the fastest growing investment vehicles in the last few years for retail investors.

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The “Volcker Rule”

On December 10, five U.S. regulators agreed to formally impose trading restrictions on U.S. banks.

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Page 29 of 30 pages.

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