After becoming the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), former U.S. Representative Chris Cox prioritized the protection of senior investors, who are especially vulnerable to fraud. The SEC initiated several programs during his tenure designed specifically to help elderly investors, and concluded supervisory arrangements with regulators around the world who have been enlisted in what is now a global fight against this kind of predatory activity. These international law enforcement efforts included a crackdown on Internet-based financial frauds, which often targeted seniors. The SEC under Christopher Cox also sought out ways to directly engage seniors across the country on the subject of how fraudsters target them with fraudulent and abusive schemes often peddled by investment advisors and sales agents.
One of the most common ways con artists have attempted to influence seniors has been through “free lunch” seminars; while many are advertised as educational opportunities, the SEC initiated a nationwide sweep examination and found that 100% of the “seminars” were actually sales pitches, with nearly a quarter offering outright bad advice and 13% exhibiting outright fraud.
In addition to stepping up enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting these activities, the SEC under Chris Cox also began offering an annual “Seniors Summit” in conjunction with AARP, the North American Securities Administrators Association, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The SEC also adopted a new rule specifically designed to protect seniors against abusive sales of equity-indexed annuities, a financial instrument often unsuited to the needs of senior investors. When the annuity industry sued to prevent the rule from taking effect, Congress stepped in to encourage states to adopt model suitability regulation for these kinds of annuities, thus heeding Cox’s warning about the unsavory sales practices while giving seniors valuable new protections.
Before beginning his legal career and winning election to Congress, Christopher Cox attended Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, earning both an MBA and JD in 1977. While working toward his dual degrees, Chris Cox served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review, one of the nation’s leading legal journals. The Harvard Law Review has been in continuous circulation since its founding in 1887.
Established by an informal club known as the Langdell Society, the Harvard Law Review was founded in 1887. The founders were inspired during the celebrations of Harvard’s 250th anniversary the preceding year, and desired to leave their mark on the institution and the legal profession. Today, more than 100 annual volumes later, the Harvard Law Review stands at the forefront of judicial scholarship. Beyond its status as the most cited law journal in the country, the Harvard Law Review has served as an incubator for the careers of some of America’s best-known politicians, jurists, and academics. In addition to Chris Cox, its editors have included Chief Justice John Roberts, Senator Ted Cruz, and President Barack Obama.
The Review’s pages include recent scholarship by leading legal scholars, as well as student contributions in the form of articles concerning recent court decisions and legislation. The Review has also traditionally included reviews of recently published books on law-related topics.
A former U.S. Congressman, Chris Cox now serves as a Partner of Bingham McCutchen LLP and President of Bingham Consulting LLC. In his leadership role at Bingham Consulting, Chris Cox leverages his experience in cross-border investment and corporate governance to advise companies on their global strategies. Christopher Cox has also shared his expertise during events such as the Sino-U.S. Mayors Summit, which convened mayoral leaders from the United States and China.
According to a recent Bloomberg News survey, economists expect China to reach its 7.5 percent growth target in 2013. Furthermore, analysts predict that the country will maintain this pace into 2014. The positive outlook stems primarily from the recovery of global markets, specifically those in the United States and Europe. As the financial situations in these areas continue to improve, China will benefit from more robust export markets.
In addition to its expected export growth, China has experienced a significant credit boom. As of mid-August, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index had increased approximately 6 percent from its low point in June. Finally, government officials are planning to widen the yuan’s trading band over the next six months.
With a background in securities and finance that included partnership in the international law firm of Latham & Watkins and service in the elected leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, Christopher Cox accepted appointment as the 28th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005. Currently, Chris Cox applies his financial, legal, and regulatory experience in his work as President of Bingham Consulting LLC. Chris Cox and his distinguished professional colleagues at Bingham Consulting, themselves former high-ranking government officials including U.S. Governors and top executives from the White House senior staff, the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the National Security Council, regularly advise clients on issues such as how the SEC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau affect international business.
In mid-August 2013, President Obama met with regulators to review their progress on the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act. After three years, officials have made little headway implementing many of the measures prescribed by the law. Those meeting with the President included the Treasury Secretary, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Chairman of the SEC, among others. The meeting focused on the fact that these regulators had missed approximately 60 percent of the 279 deadlines that were set when the law was passed in 2010.
Analysts note, however, that progress is finally being made on many of the overdue rules. Regulators report they have moved forward on parts of the Dodd-Frank Act related to mortgage regulations and derivatives. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has announced that 35 of its 43 required derivatives rulemakings are now completed. With regard to the much-debated Volcker Rule, which was to have been a centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank law that would regulate risky trading among banks, officials are not optimistic that the restriction will go into effect before early 2014.
A well-respected legislator and political leader, Chris Cox devoted two decades to public service in Washington, D.C. Presently, Chris Cox fulfills the role of President of Bingham Consulting LLC, a global firm devoted to integrating government, legal, and business strategies, with expertise in multijurisdictional controversies and opportunities, U.S. state attorneys general matters, corporate governance, brand protection, and many other issues. With offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, business strategies involving China are a particular focus of Bingham Consulting.
For over a year, commerce officials in the United States and the European Union have been involved in disputes with China over solar panel tariffs. In October of 2012, the United States imposed levies of up to 36 percent on the alternative energy products, stating that companies such as the Chinese solar giant Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., had illegally dumped cheap photovoltaic cells into the U.S. market. More recently, the European Union has become engrossed in what threatens to develop into a full-scale trade war over proposed solar panel tariffs of up to 68 percent.
Officials point out that the vast subsidies the Chinese government is awarding to domestic solar companies stand to harm competition in the European Union. Both the EU and the U.S. tariffs are designed to counteract this advantage. As EU officials debate the levy, China has started pressuring individual countries, specifically Germany, and has proposed its own tariffs on goods from the European Union.
Learn more about Christopher Cox and his work with Bingham Consulting at www.bingham.com.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Christopher Cox received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Harvard Law School. During the administration of President George W. Bush, Chris Cox served as the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. During his prior service as a member of Congress, President Bill Clinton appointed him to the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, which examined the problems of runaway entitlement spending and the growing federal debt.
In 1993, Chris Cox, together with his colleagues on the so-called Kerrey-Danforth Commission (named after its co-chairs), reported that the unchecked growth of Medicare and Social Security liabilities represented major threats to the country’s solvency. Nearly two decades later, however, the problem remains unsolved. As Cox pointed out in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, co-authored with former Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, the oft-cited $16 trillion national debt fails to include the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs. Even the alarming $16 trillion national debt is a gross underestimate of the real fiscal threat our nation faces.
While the government’s balance sheet does not report the unfunded liabilities from entitlement programs, the separately reported liabilities of Medicare and Social Security alone would balloon the $16 trillion figure to $86.8 trillion, Cox and Archer said. This represents 550% of GDP. In order to ensure that the public and their elected representatives understand the real dimensions of our debt crisis, Chris Cox and his co-author recommend that the government follow the example of the private sector and publish a full and accurate accounting of its liabilities.
During the 1990s, while serving the people of California as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chris Cox worked alongside Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to create important parts of the legal framework that today undergirds the modern Internet. In its formative years, the Internet was experiencing exponential growth, dramatically improving Americans’ access to information and their opportunities to engage in commerce. One of two landmark laws authored by Rep. Chris Cox and Rep. Ron Wyden that has enabled the continued growth and success of the Internet is the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
During the past two decades, the ITFA has served to protect the functioning of the Internet and Americans’ ability to benefit from it by outlawing special taxes directed at the Internet. Examples of taxes that the Cox-Wyden legislation bans are any federal, state, or local taxes on Internet access (with some exceptions made for taxes already in existence in 1998), taxes on email, taxes on bandwith usage, and all other Internet-only taxes that do not apply equally in the off-line world. Seeing the successful results of the ITFA, which originally was enacted for three years, the Congress has renewed the law three times. Cox-Wyden was extended first in 2001, and then again in 2004 and 2007. The most recent renewal of ITFA will keep the Internet free of discriminatory taxes until November 1, 2014.
The other landmark piece of Internet legislation authored by Chris Cox and Ron Wyden is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, sometimes dubbed the First Amendment of the Internet. For more on this law, visit the Digital Media Law Project at http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/immunity-online-publishers-under-communications-decency-act