Might we finally see real financial services refor
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Might we finally see real financial services refor

Paul Holmes

Arguably the greatest mystery of the first Obama administration was its coddling of the financial sector, although the explanation offered by Matt Yglesias in this Slate piece—you don’t stabilize the economy “by maximizing the number of bank executives you slap handcuffs on”—makes sense. Still, Yglesias argues that the appointment of new SEC chair Mary Jo White could, and should, signal a harder line: “In addition to sending a much-needed message of accountability, rigorous enforcement would be an important show of confidence in the new system.” Of course, not everybody thinks confidence in the new system is a priority. Republicans are reportedly determined to filibuster confirmation of the new head of the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless its powers are reduced. Similarly, if this report in the FT is any indication, the UK is also willing to at last take a tough line with the financial services sector after what Greg Clark, the City minister, called “another day of shame” for the business. Apple, despite being one of the world’s most admired corporation, has long cultivated a reputation for prickliness when it comes to the media (and bloggers in particular). But The Wall Street Journal says the company’s PR department is becoming (a little) more proactive—perhaps because new CEO Tim Cook is not quite as hostile to the media as the late Steve Jobs, or perhaps because “competitors like Samsung Electronics are starting to steal significant buzz and sales and spending handsomely to do so.” Or perhaps, as AppleInsider suggests, the company is pushing back against negative news items, such as “lower gross margins, a perception that Apple may have lost its ‘cool’ factor to Android-based rivals like Samsung, and declining Mac sales in the same quarter that Microsoft debuted its new Windows 8 operating system.” This Forbes blog teases a research study from the Integrated Marketing Communication Department at Northwestern University’s Medill School, which found that heavy users of social media, when asked for brand preferences in various product categories, showed higher levels of specific “No Brand Preference” as a brand category choice than those who used less social media. I am not sure how that finding leads to the conclusion that “the potential for marketers invading social media vehicles or encouraging social media users to become product advocates is not only limited, but, may actually be counterproductive,”—is the effect greater for companies that are active in social media?—and a Google search for the paper’s title turns up nothing. Worth a look, though. Applebee’s is clearly facing the wrath of the social media mob after firing a waitress for posting a customer’s snarky comment—scribbled on his check—to Reddit. We can debate whether dismissal was appropriate—seems a little draconian to me—but this is a lesson every company should have learned by now: “Finally, unable to keep up with the torrent of posts, the company decided late Thursday night to disable user posts on its Facebook page… and hid their previous post, along with its comment thread that had amassed more than 20,000 responses.”
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