Striking a balance on money market funds [Washington Post]

Co-authored with Theresa Hamacher.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, money market funds have been the subject of fierce debate. Regulators say money market funds need to be fundamentally transformed to prevent them from creating too much systemic risk. The fund industry has pushed back, trying to preserve the utility of money market funds for millions of investors. Fortunately, a smart compromise exists that would reform the riskiest money market funds while protecting retail investors.

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Q&A with Robert C. Pozen, author of ‘Extreme Productivity’ [Washington Post]

By Kelly Johnson.

Of all the intriguing details Michael Lewis revealed in his Vanity Fair profile of President Obama this month, the bit about the suits sticks with me. The president wears either blue or gray. With so many high-octane decisions to make each day, why waste even a moment lingering at the closet (or the tie rack or the sock drawer)?

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A recipe for cutting corporate taxes [Washington Post]

Amid all the division on Capitol Hill, both parties generally agree that the corporate tax rate, which at 35 percent is among the highest in the world, needs to be cut. During Wednesday’s presidential debate, both candidates advocateda significant reduction in the corporate tax rate.

Yet the federal budget’s unsustainable fiscal path should preclude a large unfunded tax cut. Given these competing demands, policymakers have been searching for revenue-neutral reforms that reduce the corporate tax rate and broaden the corporate tax base.

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Pension ‘savings’ in transportation bill may be costly [Washington Post]

The transportation bill that Congress passed this summer is financed, in part, with a budget gimmick: Lawmakers changed the funding rules for corporate pension plans. These changes help the federal budget in the short term by reducing the tax deductions that corporations take for contributing to these plans — thereby reportedly increasing their taxable income.

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In China, big opportunities for investors, if mutual funds can find a way in [Washington Post]

Co-authored with Theresa Hamacher:

For U.S. mutual fund marketers, China is the Holy Grail. Given the country’s fast-growing economy and its large and rapidly aging population needing to save for retirement, China’s fund market has enormous potential for growth. Although the fund industry started in China only a decade ago, funds in that country already hold close to $350 billion in assets. And given the expanding size of China’s economy, its fund assets could easily grow to several trillion dollars over the next decade. But the Chinese market has been tough for U.S. firms to break into, because both regulation and local preferences tend to favor homegrown funds over U.S.-sponsored offerings. In general, China encapsulates the difficulties that investment managers must address when trying to export mutual funds — one of the United States’ most successful financial products — to other countries.

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Public-pension pitfalls: What municipal budget troubles mean for bond investors [Washington Post]

Government workers’ pensions may sound like an obscure topic, but it’s front and center in some of the most rancorous of today’s political discussions. Retirement benefits for public workers are at the heart of the conflict between state and local governments and the unions representing their workers — and how that conflict gets resolved will affect investors in the municipal bonds issued by those states and cities. Let’s take a look at the looming public pension crisis, its effect on municipal finance and how accounting reform might help.

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Bill to help businesses raise capital goes too far [Washington Post]

With John Coates.

The House voted 390 to 23 last week for a bill to provide regulatory relief for small companies trying to raise capital. The bill is moving quickly through the Senate; no one likes unnecessary regulations that burden economic growth.

But this bill does more than trim regulatory fat; parts of it cut into muscle. Small businesses will have a harder time raising capital if investors do not receive sufficient disclosures or other legal protections.

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