On March 20, the U.S. Senate failed to renew the charter for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides significant financial support to parties that encourage global trade activity and thus benefit the U.S. economy. While the Ex-Im Bank offers some direct loans to international buyers of U.S. exported goods, the majority of its activity is in the form of guarantees and insurance-backing loans made by banks to small businesses. Government-sponsored guarantors are critically important to the ability of small businesses to trade internationally.
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One thing I learned during my recent research effort on the road traveled thus far toward establishing a new global legal entity identification (LEI) standard was that there are still real hurdles ahead of the ISO-proposed standard on the table.
Yesterday, I was giving a webinar with the Head of the RSA FraudAction Research Labs, Etay Maor. He shared some interesting intelligence about Citadel, one of the latest ZeuS offspring. The RSA research labs performed analysis on the Trojan and translated some language in its "user agreement," which says, "Important: Our software does not work on Russian-language systems. If a Russian or Ukrainian layout is detected, the bot terminates. This is done to prevent installs on CIS systems. You may disagree, but that’s taboo for us.”
This is indicative of a couple of things:
The performance of the U.S. property & casualty insurance industry is more counterintuitive and potentially troubling today than ever before. And yet, across all products -- including in personal and commercial lines -- in a static market with paltry investment returns, in a soft pricing environment where price increases are hard to come by, and with year-over-year industry growth in 2011 of little more than 1%, most of the largest P&C carriers have continued to grow and profit.
The plan to eliminate Fannie and Freddie is no magic bullet. Vaporize Fannie and Freddie and all will be right with our world, say some, who, given the depth of their life experience, should know. What is clearly so sad is that they really don’t know. Their cavalier “just do it” approach to destroy what has been since 1938 (with the exception of an 8- to 10-year blip) a credible and skilled approach to funding homeownership could be even more financially dangerous for the United States going forward than what the country has now.