Over the past several years we have started to see a major shift in the landscape for some of the largest corporations in the United States. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, the country has been torn between wanting the economy to recover, and wanting to make sure nothing like that crisis happens again. The result has been a wide spread debate on how best to regulate corporations, and how to best keep an eye on them.
One group that has been keeping on eye on the on-goings of large corporations is the law firm Robbins Geller. Two class actions lawsuits have been filed by Robbins Geller against two major companies in the United States, claiming they misled investors. In one case you have Alibaba, an online retailer that was accused by the Chinese government of selling fraudulent goods and other poor business practices. Alibaba failed to disclose to their investors that they met with the Chinese government to discuss these claims, and as a result the stock price was altered. In the other case, an investor in IBM is claiming that the company misrepresented the value of the microchip manufacturing operation, the result of which was an inflated stock price. Experts say that Robbins Geller is going to have an uphill battle trying to prove fraud, but at the very least these lawsuits will make some companies think twice before trying to deceive their stock holders.
Lawsuits are not the only way that large corporations are being held accountable. A large amount of financial provisions and laws were put into place following the financial crisis in an effort to reign in some of these companies. Two such examples are the Dodd Frank bill and the Consumer Protection Agency. Dodd Frank is a large set of provisions, but what it boils down to is several things. First, it ensures that if a large corporation fails, it will be Wall Street that bails it out, not the American tax payers. Second, it tried to prevent any company from becoming “too big too fail”. And third, it wanted to help make sure that everyday Americans are protected from predatory or risky financial practices. It is a harsh set of rules that aims to make sure that we don’t repeat the financial crisis of 2008. However, the law certainly has its flaws, and many argue that the bill either went too far, or not far enough.
The Dodd Frank Act is not the only set of major regulations impacting corporations however. A new trade agreement is in the works called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This is a trade agreement between the United States and many of the nations bordering the Pacific Ocean, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Much is still unknown about this bill, as it is being negotiated largely in secrecy, but what is known is that it would place regulations on things like work place environment standards, and put stricter enforcements on copyright laws. However the TPP also includes a provision that would allow corporations to challenge local laws, which some fear would give these corporations a large amount of power. Until the entirety of the trade agreement is made public, it is hard to speculate just what it will do, but most who have seen it agree that it will have a large impact on American corporations one way or another.
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