The Treasury Department and Justice Department in February issued guidance that was meant to reassure banks that they wouldn’t run afoul of federal law—under which marijuana remains illegal—by working with pot businesses in states that have legalized the drug.
But lenders have taken little comfort in the guidelines, saying they don’t go far enough to guarantee that banks won’t face legal repercussions, and add burdensome new requirements that they screen customers for marijuana ties.
As a result, banks have become even more uneasy about accepting marijuana money, pushing state-licensed pot businesses deeper into a financial netherworld.”
Most banks are trying to avoid this and mitigate it if they inadvertently find a customer with a marijuana-related business,” said Chuck Johnston, president of North Valley Bank in Thornton, Colo., which won’t accept customers with marijuana ties.
Pot stores increasingly find themselves in situations other businesses couldn’t fathom, such as hiring armed escorts to help deliver sales taxes to government offices in wads of cash. “What I find most frustrating is that I pay an enormous amount of taxes and licensing and other fees,” said Morgan Carr, co-owner of the Wellspring Collective pot shop in Denver. Mr. Carr said he recently lost his bank account for the seventh time because the bank he was using became uncomfortable with his cash deposits.
With most banking options still closed, Colorado store owners are scrambling for new ways to secure their cash. One Denver-area company operated by military and law-enforcement veterans, Blue Line Protection Group, now specializes in shipping cash from pot stores to several vaults around Colorado by armored trucks. The company also transports marijuana.
Hours after being sworn in as Treasury Secretary in February, Jacob Lew pulled regulators into a conference room and delivered a blunt message: Get the Volcker rule done.
On Tuesday, half a year later, Mr. Lew found himself leading another meeting with regulators about the still unfinished rule.
The Volcker rule, a centerpiece of the sweeping overhaul of financial regulation known as Dodd-Frank, is an attempt to protect the financial system from risk. It is simple in concept. Banks are prohibited from making investment bets with their own money.
But it has proved fiendishly difficult to apply. Five years after cratering financial firms ignited a global crisis, and three years after Dodd-Frank outlined the Volcker rule as a central part of the government response, the rule languishes unfinished and unenforced, mired in policy tangles and infighting among five separate agencies whose job is to produce the fine print.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman for whom the rule is named. He said there is “no reason why the Volcker rule should take three years” to write.
Just 40% of Dodd-Frank’s nearly 400 provisions have been fleshed out with regulatory language and made final, the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has estimated.
The result is that despite the profound shock the crisis dealt to the nation, revealing its vulnerabilities, significant parts of the U.S. financial infrastructure remain potentially at risk. Assets at the 10 largest U.S. banks have grown nearly 40%, to $11 trillion, raising questions of whether the government has solved the problem of certain financial institutions being “too big to fail.”
Regulators now say they might be finished writing language to carry out the Volcker rule by the end of 2013, which would be 3½ years after its authorization. Along the way, an idea that started as a 1½-page outline from Mr. Volcker has swollen into a document that by the time it is done could total more than 900 pages.
Automated coffee maker Briggo Inc. has received $3.2 million of a planned $3.8 million financing. The Austin based company collected the capital from 25 investors, according to a Nov. 16 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The funding is an update to a September filing in which the company reported receiving $2.8 million from 21 investors.
Briggo, which launched last year, plans to install automated coffee kiosks primarily in universities, airports, hospitals and office buildings.
Congratulations to my past customer!
U.S. manufacturing lost 6 million jobs between 1997 and 2010. But lately there are signs of a reversal of the offshoring trend and a modest comeback in U.S. manufacturing. Since 2011 manufacturing jobs have risen by 489,000 to 11.9 million.
Most of this increase is due to the general economic recovery; however, an estimated 25,000 manufacturing jobs are related to reshoring.
Reshoring product manufacturing to the U.S. doesn’t always correlate to an equal number of manufacturing jobs. Many of the parts used in the final assembly are still sourced in China. In many cases, there are no longer U.S. suppliers, or existing vendors are not competitive with Asian suppliers. China and other Asia nations remain very competitive. Once expertise and supplier networks become entrenched in a country, it is very difficult to move them. The U.S. also suffers from a shortage of trained workers in some areas vital for manufacturing; such as engineering and operation of computerized machinery. The relatively higher U.S. corporate tax doesn’t help the cause.
U.S. manufacturing has become attractive for some companies as Asian wages have surged over recent years and the wage gap between U.S. and China has narrowed. In China’s big manufacturing hubs, labor rates are now as much as $3.50 per hour. The drop in the dollar over the past decade has made U.S. produced goods more competitive. Higher oil prices have increased the cost of shipping goods across oceans, making domestic manufacturing more attractive.
There will probably not be a mass rush to move manufacturing back to the U.S. However, it is no longer a slam dunk to manufacturer all products in Asia. Companies are now carefully assessing the pros and cons of producing domestically or overseas. Global companies are still expanding production capacity in Asia to serve their faster growing markets. Companies will move towards a regional manufacturing model in which Asian plants serve Asian customers and North American plants serve the U.S. http://online.wsj.com/article/Reshoring
David Knieriem forms Engineering Consulting Services Firm
After 10 years as Deaton Engineering’s VP of Sales and Marketing I have formed an engineering consulting services firm. I help guide firms through the process of outsourcing engineering, sourcing manufacturing, and managing their supply chain.
Improving the Outsourcing Process
To improve the outsourcing process, I have created a white paper on outsourcing engineering projects. The white paper details the critical steps to find, evaluate, and select a strategic engineering partner.
Free White Paper
To download the complete white paper, please follow this link: http://davidknieriem.com/outsource-engineering/