business news in context, analysis with attitude

From the email folder, some notes that came in as I went on vacation...

On the subject of swipe fee regulation, one MNB user wrote:

The banks are charging 44 cents on average. Retailers wanted 12. The Federal Reserve made the Solomonic decision and split the difference, a little more to the retailers’ favor.  Seeing how both sides are complaining loudly, I consider it probably the most fair decision that could have been achieved.

I understand how the fees impact retailers and consumers (although this new regulation reduces the impact), and how the banks hold a lot of power. But to blame “the banks” for making a profit (or worse, for causing economic collapse) is akin to blaming “the government” for high taxes, corruption, or in this case, ineffectiveness. It’s painting with a pretty broad brush.

On point that banks make “too much” profit, here’s a question to ponder: how many retailers who share in the FMI’s condemnation of the swipe fee cap continue to profit on things such as slotting fees and promotional allowances?  Should the government cap these things as well in the name of consumer protection?

I certainly agree that slotting allowances are a bad idea, and corrupt the system by allowing some retailers to make money on the buy rather than the sell.

The difference, I think, is that retailers are not in bed together colluding over slotting allowances. Some don’t take them. I’m not sure the same thing can be said about banks in the debit card business.

Another MNB user wrote:

Do you honestly believe the poor retailers were going to pass all these anticipated savings along to consumers?  All this swipe fee regulation would do is pass the profits from one side to the other.  By taking it from the banks (who have already taken some major financial hits recently) they would in turn be forced to raise their fees to customers – so ultimately the customer will pay either way.  Is this really where our government should  be focusing its efforts right now?

I find it hard to sympathize with the banks. They may have taken some financial “hits,” but nobody has gone to jail ... and so they’ve dodged a bullet as far as I am concerned.

As for retailers passing on the’re right. Not everyone would. Maybe most would not. But somebody would, and I think that could have created market pressure on all of them.

On the subject of proposals that would have made it illegal in some states to photograph and film animal abuse scenarios on private farms, one MNB user wrote:

So “60 Minutes” would be illegal then? Big business and our government at work...

And another MNB user wrote:

In case you didn't know there is a piece of legislation floating around Albany somewhere that would ban images being taken on farms in New York.  This is presumably being offered by large CAFO operators who don't want to fall victim to employee/undercover pinhole camera operators.

As a small farmer myself, we welcome the public to come and view our connects consumer to their food, and creates a strong brand loyalty bond.  To suggest we have something to hide is nuts..but hey, I've been on some CAFO farms and I can see why they support the bill.

BTW....Mark Bittman of the New York Times recently had a great blog/column about this, and you can read it here.
KC's View: