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Life Settlements Task Force

Chairman Schapiro established the Life Settlements Task Force in August 2009 to examine emerging issues in the life settlements market and to advise the Commission whether market practices and regulatory oversight could be improved. A life settlement is a transaction in which an insurance policy owner sells a life insurance policy to a third party for an amount that exceeds the policy’s cash surrender value, but is less than the expected death benefit of the policy. Reports indicate that the life settlements market had experienced robust growth up until 2007 when it was estimated that $12 billion in face amount, or stated benefit amount, of life insurance was sold in life settlement transactions. More recently, the amount sold has declined. Based on a recent estimate, $7.01 billion of face amount in life insurance was sold in life settlement transactions in 2009.

A Dynamic Model of Legislative Bargaining

We prove existence of stationary Markov perfect equilibria in an infinite horizon model of legislative bargaining in which the policy out come in one period determines the status quo in the next. We allow for a multidimensional policy space and arbitrary smooth stage utilities. We prove that all such equilibria are essentially in pure strategies and that proposal strategies are differentiable almost everywhere. The model is general enough to accommodate much of the institutional structure observed in real-world legislatures and parliaments.

Political interaction in modern democracies qualifies as one of the most complex phenomena subjected to scientific inquiry. The need to accommodate this complexity in formal political theory models stems not only from the desire to sate our intellectual curiosity, but seems also essential for the analysis of the effects of public policy and the design of constitutions. In this spirit we seek to develop a class of models of policy making that (i) accounts for the multidimensional nature of public policy, (ii) captures the continuing nature of policy over time, (iii) is rich enough to reflect institutional structure at a fine level of detail, and (iv) allows for the kinds of random shocks (e.g.,on preferences and the social environment) to which political interaction is subjected over time. The political economy literature to date has had limited success in addressing these issues. At a formal level, the primary difficulty that arises is the existence of equilibria in which policy makers use relatively simple and intuitive strategies. Beyond that is the problem of characterizing equilibria, once they are known to exist, and finally there is the task of applying the model, i.e., developing useful special cases and, when the limits of formal analysis are reached, bringing numerical techniques to bear.

Macroeconomics, Politics and Policy: The Determinants of Capital Flows to Latin America

Since the “lost decade” of the 1980’s Latin America has attracted several forms of capital from abroad. Extensive studies about the effects of capital have found mixed results, but have established that these emerging markets are still constantly seeking out foreign monies. Despite unresolved debates over the consequences, policy makers desire to understand the determinants of capital inflows—specifically foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio investment (PI), and remittances. Although determinants of FDI have been extensively studied, portfolio investment and remittances, which make up a combined three-fourths of capital inflows for many of these nations, have been mostly ignored. In this study, I investigate the different factors and dynamics that determine these three different forms of capital inflow. I argue that the factors (macroeconomic, political, and domestic) that help determine each of these types of capital inflows are different across inflow type. I find that PI remains the most unpredictable form of capital to the region, but that remittances and FDI demonstrate important similarities that policy makers should consider. My findings about remittances also have substantial implications for future research of migrants’ decision to remit as well as the states ability to stimulate these flows with implications for capital control policy.

The economic performance of Latin America since the “lost decade” of the 1980’s has been on a gradual upwards climb, yet has not withstood startling setbacks (Boeker 1993). The Washington Consensus, presented as the economic reform package to end the market downturns, has largely been replaced by market driven economic policy and signaled a return to concerns about government infrastructure as well as effects on poverty and inequality levels due to these reforms. Foreign capital has had a sizable role in the economic recovery seen in Latin America. Although foreign direct investment (FDI) still makes up most of total foreign capital, faster-moving portfolio flows as well as less predictable worker remittances are increasing in importance for Latin American economies.

Incentives And Their Dynamics in Public Sector Performance Management Systems

We use the principal-agent model as a focal theoretical frame for synthesizing what we know both theoretically and empirically about the design and dynamics of the implementation of performance management systems in the public sector. In this context, we review the growing body of evidence about how performance measurement and incentive systems function in practice and how individuals and organizations respond and adapt to them over time, drawing primarily on examples from performance measurement systems in public education and social welfare programs. We also describe a dynamic framework for performance measurement systems that takes into account strategic behavior of individuals over time, learning about production functions and individual responses, accountability pressures, and the use of information about the relationship of measured performance to value-added. Implications are discussed and recommendations derived for improving public sector performance measurement systems.

The use of formal performance measures based on explicit and objectively defined criteria and metrics has long been a fundamental component of both public and private sector incentive systems. The typical early performance measurement system was based largely on scientific management principles (Taylor, 1911) promoting the careful analysis of workers’ effort, tasks, work arrangements and output, establishing work procedures according to a technical logic, and setting standards and production controls to maximize efficiency. Assuming the benchmark level of performance reflected the relationship between worker effort and output, workers could be paid according to a simple formula that included a base wage per hour plus a bonus rate for performance above the standard.

Give & Take: Incentive Framing in Compensation Contracts

From the time of Hammurabi through the modern day scandals of Enron’s collapse and the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac takeovers, fraud has been a concern. Broadly conceived, fraud is the misappropriation of assets as well as financial statement fraud (Golden, Skalak, & Clayton, 2005). The first of these – the misappropriation of assets – includes the unauthorized consumption, or theft, of an organization’s resources. In contrast, financial statement fraud is the presentation of knowingly false financial reports wherein financial damage results from reliance on those reports (Skalak, Alas & Sellitto, 2005). Accordingly, this issue has broad appeal to managerial accountants who are concerned with fraud from the perspective of control system design, to auditorswho are interested in fraud from a detection viewpoint, and to financial
accountants
who are concerned with the quality of the financial reporting on which organizational and investor decisions are based.

A recent survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE, 2008) estimates losses due to all frauds at $994 billion annually.2 In addition to being costly, we know that the manipulation of financial reports also is common (Merchant & Van der Stede, 2007).

Debt-for-Nature Swaps: A Critical Approach

DNS involves an agreement between actors in a lending and borrowing country to reduce some of the borrowing country’s debt in exchange for the support of a specific environmental project. In 1987, the first debt for nature swap in the world occurred between Bolivia and Conservation International. It involved the cancellation of $650,000 Bolivian foreign debt in exchange for $100,000 of local currency to be used towards protection of the Bolivian Beni Biosphere. In recent years, the number of private debt-for-nature swaps (DNS) in 3rd World countries has been increasing rapidly.

Debt-for-nature swaps have been described as a deal where everyone benefits: indebted countries receive debt relief and environmental conservation organizations receive funding for conservation projects. DNS is an important issue because it could potentially be a useful tool in development strategy, but do DNS agreements really benefit all of the parties involved? There is a considerable gap in the research on the impact these deals have on the people living in the communities in/around the impacted environmental areas. The majority of the research available to the public is largely in favor of DNS. At the same time, the information presented is often overly-simplistic. This paper argues that the impact and mechanisms of DNS are more complicated and require more detailed analysis before any conclusion should be reached about the potential benefits and use of the debt-for-nature swap.

Ethics in the auditing profession

In the recent decades the auditing profession has been faced by several scandals. These scandals have brought up a lot of attention in media. Corporate scandals have led to increased demands for ethics within the auditing profession. To regain the trustworthiness in the auditing profession and to prevent future scandals, the demands on the profession have increased. The aim of the study is, from a Swedish perspective, to investigate the level of ethical reasoning among auditors and accounting students when facing an ethical dilemma.

We introduce this chapter by giving a background to our problem. This is followed by a discussion of the problem and a definition of the main problem. The purpose summarizes what we want to achieve with our thesis. Finally, an outline is presented.

Political Corruption in Russia

Johnston describes political corruption as “the abuse of public roles or resources for private benefit”. Definitions of the terms ‘abuse’, ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘benefit’ are crucial when applying this definition to a country specific analysis of corruption but in Russia, rapid liberalisation means that the distinction between ‘public’ and ‘private’ is blurred. Difficulties identifying ‘abuse’ are hindering the development of effective anti-corruption strategies in Russia. Consequently, corruption has become a “universal condition of life” (Bocharov, 2001, p.38). However, this is seriously distorting Russia’s political, economic and social development. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of the Presidents of Russia have stated their commitment to combating corruption in the public sphere. However, neither Yeltsin nor Putin were able to make significant progress in this respect.

In 2008 President Medvedev revealed his National Anti-Corruption Plan as the first comprehensive and systematic response to corruption in Russia. This dissertation seeks to evaluate the potential for success of Medvedev’s Plan and to propose a number of measures for remedying its weaknesses. In order to do so, this dissertation will begin by explaining what is meant by ‘political corruption’ in Russia. It will be argued that weak institutions, poorly enforced regulations and a lack of civil involvement are sustaining weak understandings of public- and private- sector roles, and that this is facilitating corrupt activity throughout Russia’s official institutions. It will be asserted that, in order to clarify the boundaries between the public and private spheres, Russia needs to do five things: increase transparency and accountability in all levels of government; improve legislative sanctions against corrupt behaviour; establish incentives for good behaviour; facilitate a credible privatisation process; and strengthen civil society.

Parliamentary Reference Sources: House of Representatives

House procedures are based not solely on the code of Rules the chamber adopts at the start of each Congress, but also on constitutional mandates, published precedents reflecting authoritative rulings and interpretations of the foregoing authorities, procedural principles set forth in the manual of practice prepared by Jefferson, “rule-making” statutes, and practices that have developed without being formally adopted.. Rules adopted by committees and by the party conferences also serve as sources of parliamentary practice in the House. This report describes the coverage, format, and availability of documents that set forth these procedural authorities, and notes principles of House procedural practice that bear on appropriate use of these sources. Summaries and appendices provide citations to print and electronic versions, and list related CRS products.

The main procedural authorities of the House are set forth in the House Manual (“House Rules and Manual” or, colloquially, “Jefferson’s Manual”), published in each Congress and distributed to House offices. They include the Constitution, applicable portions of Jefferson’s Manual, the adopted Rules of the House, and provisions of statute that have procedural effects, often governing proceedings on specified measures. In the House Manual, provisions of each authority are accompanied by the parliamentarian’s annotations of precedents interpreting those provisions. Budget resolutions may also contain provisions with procedural effect.

What Money Can’t Buy: Self-Financed Candidates in Gubernatorial Elections

Critics are quick to accuse wealthy gubernatorial candidates of attempting to “buy” elections. But although wealthy gubernatorial candidates sometimes win, their electoral success does not necessarily imply that voters can be bought. To the contrary, I present evidence that self-financed campaign spending has a far weaker marginal effect on electoral results than externally financed campaign spending. For every Corzine, there’s a DeVos who spent record amounts in his 2006 attempt to unseat Michigan’s incumbent governor, only to lose by an embarrassingly wide margin. Money can’t buy the governor’s mansion.

This empirical finding presents a theoretical puzzle why would externally financed spending trump self-finance? The solution lies in strategic incentives facing would be campaign donors. A candidate’s ability to raise funds serves as a crucial indicator of her electoral viability. When it comes to influencing voters, a candidate’s ability to raise money matters far more than her ability to spend it.

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