Category Archives: Practice Matter

The Robes And The Quants: Comparing The Nation’s Central Bank to Its Highest Court

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By: Brian J. Meli

In a few weeks, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet to decide whether to raise short term interest rates for the first time since 2006; a decision that could have wide-ranging implications, not only for the stock market and the broader economy of this country, but for a world economy that, many believe, is showing signs of turning over.

The fact that the Federal Reserve is contemplating such a move comes as a surprise to exactly no one. For the better part of a year, even causal market observers have been anticipating a rate hike; with everyone from retired pensioners to veteran money managers hanging on the Fed’s every word. This heightened state of awareness owes to the fact that the Fed’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), has been widely credited with helping pull the U.S. economy back from the brink of collapse, and with bringing about the sustained stock market advances we’ve witnessed since the spring of 2009. The fear is that a rising interest rate environment will slam the brakes on, and even reverse, that progress.

There’s even a name for this interest rate mania: FedWatch. And if you care to, you can see what the experts are calculating the odds of a rate hike to be in real time. Or you can visit the Fed statement tracker to try and divine the Reserve Board’s thoughts from its last eighty or so official statements—each one conveniently marked up to show how it differed from the last. Whatever you call the current obsession with basis points, it has put the Federal Reserve Board of Governors under an intense public spotlight; one that only glows brighter and hotter the longer it keeps the federal funds rate at zero.

All this incessant debate, speculation and grousing over the words of five enigmatic economists deliberating inside a secretive Washington enclave, represents a degree of scrutiny unparalleled for a body of unelected appointees. 

Or does it?

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The 2014 ANA Advertising Law And Public Policy Conference Answers Many Questions, Poses Even More

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By: Brian J. Meli

The 2014 ANA Advertising Law and Public Policy Conference is now officially in the books. The two-day conference held in Washington D.C. featured a formidable line-up of industry experts weighing in on a wide variety of hot-button topics in advertising law. The conference was both broad in scope and ambitious by nature, bringing practitioners up to speed on the current state of legal and regulatory affairs, and endeavoring to sketch a workable outline for what the future may hold in an industry reshaping itself daily through technology.

As you might expect from a group of speakers as varied as attorneys general, CIOs and members of academia, there were diverse viewpoints on a wide range of topics. But as the event got going, the topics began pooling into three discernable themes:

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Practicing Law Without A Hair Dryer: Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

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By: Brian J. Meli

It often takes a tragedy to upset the status quo. In this way, tragedy can plant the seeds of progress. So not surprisingly, in the aftermath of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent dawning of the “era of the superstorm,” there’s been a lot of rethinking assumptions and reevaluating priorities.

As lawyers, expecting the unexpected is what we do for a living. We take a lot of pride in preparing our clients for the worst-case-scenario; insisting on the force majeure clause, advising adequate levels of insurance etc. But while we’re forever impressing upon clients to expect the unexpected, how good are we at taking our own advice?  When Mother Nature sets her sights on us, are we ready?  If you’re a lawyer practicing in the greater New York area, this isn’t a hypothetical question. Continue reading

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