EI News and Notes

Economists Ink: A Brief Analysis of Policy and Litigation

First Major Criminal Trial Related to the Global Financial CrisisEI President Jonathan L. Walker testified for the defense at the federal criminal trial of two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers accused of fraud and insider trading. This trial was the first stemming from federal investigations related to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and the ensuing global financial crisis. Dr. Walker testified regarding the hedge funds’ operations, in particular liquidity, and cash flows around the time of the alleged fraud. A jury acquitted both managers of all charges. The defendants were represented by the law firm of Williams and Connolly.Judgment in Dairyland Power Cooperative CaseEI Principal Jonathan A. Neuberger testified in the Court of Federal Claims for the defendant in Dairyland Power Cooperative v. The United States. Dr. Neuberger was retained by the U.S. Department of Justice to analyze how the organization of a hypothetical market would affect prices and plaintiff’s damages claim. He concluded that plaintiff’s predictions were unreliable because gains from trade in this hypothetical market were attributed solely to buyers, rather than being shared between buyers and sellers. The judge reduced by half the damages claim associated with this market and cited Dr. Neuberger’s testimony in support of his ruling.Comments on Natural Gas ContractsThe Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued Notices of Intent to determine whether 15 natural gas financial basis contracts traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) are Significant Price Discovery Contracts (SPDCs). EI Principal John R. Morris filed comments with the CFTC based upon his 20 years studying the natural gas industry and his extensive experience studying natural gas transaction data from ICE. Dr. Morris showed that actual transaction data indicate that the contracts do not meet CFTC standards for SPDCs.