Trump Asks SEC to Study 6-Month Instead of Quarterly Corporate Filings

President Donald Trump said on Friday he had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to study the impact of allowing companies to file reports with the financial regulator every six months instead of every quarter.

“That would allow greater flexibility & save money,” he said in a post on Twitter on Friday.

Publicly traded companies in the United States currently file their earnings reports every three months, or four times a year. The potential shift would allow them to reduce these filings to two a year.

Trump’s tweet marked the first time he has personally weighed in on the issue, and will likely boost hopes of business and exchange lobbyists that more can be done to loosen filing rules.

Still, as an independent commission-led agency, the SEC cannot be forced by the president to implement any rule changes. Such changes would have to be voted on by the regulator’s sitting commissioners who are political appointees.

Any move to scrap quarterly filings would likely come up against fierce opposition from the agency’s two Democratic-leaning commissioners, Robert Jackson and Kara Stein, long-time champions of strong corporate governance.

With the tweet, Trump entered a long-running debate on corporate disclosure. Company executives have argued that quarterly reporting leads to an unhealthy focus on short-term profits, while investors typically favor more disclosure.

Trump said he urged the SEC to consider the change after talking with various business leaders. He said one executive suggested the change as a way to boost business, although he did not name the individual or the company.

Trump recently hosted a number of top company leaders while on vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, including the heads of Apple Inc., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Boeing Co., FedEx Corp., and Honeywell International Inc.

The Trump administration has said it would like to reduce red tape that it believes is responsible for a 50 percent decline in listings over the past two decades, including relaxing some of the disclosure and compliance requirements for listed companies and firms looking to go public.

In a report published by the U.S. Treasury in October, the administration laid out a detailed policy blueprint for a range of changes to capital market rules it hoped would revitalize listings. Still, the report did not go as far as to suggest scrapping quarterly reporting obligations for companies.

The SEC and commissioners’ offices were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne, Susan Heavey, Michelle Price and Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Bankruptcy Soars Among Elderly as Inequality Deepens

Bankruptcy filings among retirees have soared in recent years as widening wealth inequality leaves millions of elderly Americans in dire financial straits, according to a pair of recent studies that cast a pall over the financial stability of the country’s aging population.

The rate at which Americans at least 75 years old filed for bankruptcy more than tripled from 1991 to 2016, while filings among those between 65 and 74 ballooned more than 200 percent, according to a recent study from a group of professors working with data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project.

The aging of the baby boomer generation has left America with a considerably larger share of older citizens approaching, entering or living through their retirement years than was the case several decades ago.

But the Consumer Bankruptcy Project data suggest older Americans are filing for bankruptcy at such an accelerated rate that “the broader trend of an aging U.S. population can explain only a small portion of the effect.”

“One in seven bankruptcy filers is of retirement age, 65 years or over. This is nearly a five-fold increase over just two and a half decades,” according to the report. “For comparison, the mean age for filers in 2007 was 44.4 years and in the current CBP [data], less than 10 years later, the mean age is 48.5 – a statistically significant difference. This is a striking change in a short period.”

In measuring changes in bankruptcy filing trends among age cohorts, researchers found elderly Americans still represent a relatively modest share of the country’s total personal bankruptcy filings each year. Between 2013 and 2016, Americans over the age of 65 accounted for 12.2 percent of all bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Just 3.3 percent of filers were at least 75 years old during that same window.

Still, as of 2016, the share of elderly Americans filing for bankruptcy had ballooned nearly 480 percent from where it sat in 1991. For those over 75, their share of the country’s total bankruptcy filings climbed by nearly 1,000 percent.

“The number of senior households filing bankruptcy is not negligible,” the study’s authors wrote. “By 2050, almost a quarter of Americans, 88 million, will be over 65. If current bankruptcy trends among seniors continue, our bankruptcy courts will be flooded with financially broken retirees.”

The authors of the report, titled “Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society,” also looked into the primary reasons why elderly Americans found themselves seeking bankruptcy protections. Nearly 70 percent of older Americans who filed for bankruptcy and were analyzed by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project said they “very much” or “somewhat” agree with the idea that financial struggles – either in the form of insufficient retirement income, job loss or a decline in income – were “the reason for their bankruptcy.”

More than 62 percent of respondents also indicated medical expenses were “a catalyst for bankruptcy.” And 4 in 10 respondents indicated missing work for medical reasons was a primary factor in their decision to seek bankruptcy protections.

Researchers also cited shifts in Social Security eligibility, a decline in pension reliability and popularity and increased focus on 401(k)-style savings programs as contributors to older Americans’ shaky financial footing.

“With few exceptions, the road to bankruptcy is long,” the report said. “Combined, more than six out of ten older debtors struggled for at least two years to repay their debts before they turned to bankruptcy for help. Struggling for several years to repay one’s debts is an unfortunate way to spend one’s retirement years.”

The study also highlighted a considerable disparity between the haves and the have nots – or, in this case, the older Americans who did not need to file for bankruptcy and those who did. Older filers reported median total debt north of $100,000, compared with just $1,000 owed by their non-bankrupt peers. They also reported just over $90,000 in assets, compared with non-filers’ $252,500.

Those findings seem to jell with other research efforts pointing to widening wealth and income inequality among American workers as a whole – particularly as it relates to the elderly and as support programs such as Social Security face questions over long-term funding.

In an effort to project out what present-day wage inequality will look like as the U.S. continues to age and workers phase into their retirement years, researchers at the Urban Institute assembled a recent study that doesn’t paint a particularly cheery picture for lower-income Americans staring down the prospects of retirement.

Assuming present day trends continue – including the widening gap between the wages paid to Americans who have earned a college degree and those who have solely graduated high school – Urban Institute researchers estimate the top fifth of U.S. earners between the ages of 67 and 75 will see their incomes jump 3 percent by 2045, 5 percent by 2065 and 7 percent by 2085.

The bottom fifth of earners in that age bracket, on the other hand, are expected to see their lifetime earnings fall by 3 percent by 2045, 6 percent by 2065 and 13 percent by 2085.

“People who experience high wage inequality during their working years are likely to experience high retirement income inequality, because Social Security benefits are tied to lifetime earnings, and people’s ability to save for retirement depends on how much they earn,” according to the report. “Workers entering the labor force today face historically high rates of wage inequality, and they are likely to continue to rise.”

Both research efforts appear to come to different conclusions in terms of how best to go about addressing inequality and shaky finances among seniors and retirees. The Urban Institute report advocates for raising America’s federal minimum wage, supporting worker training and apprenticeship programs, reforming Social Security and emphasizing greater financial literacy training.

The authors of the bankruptcy report, meanwhile, advocate for more proactively supporting pension and safety net programs, notably referencing health care support that would help “insure the financial stability of older Americans.”

But both reports suggest millions of elderly Americans are increasingly standing on precarious financial footing during their golden years – without much immediate hope of greater stability in the years ahead.

NRA says it faces financial crisis, claims it might be ‘unable to exist’ in future: lawsuit

WASHINGTON—The National Rifle Association claims it’s facing deep financial problems and it might go broke in a lawsuit that blames its problems on the state of New York.

The gun-rights organization said it may soon have to stop producing its magazines and its video streaming service, NRAtv, because of actions by the state of New York, which the NRA accused of running a “blacklisting campaign.”

The campaign appears to be part of a national campaign calling for companies to cut ties with the group in the aftermath of several high profile shootings, most notably with the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The gun lobbying group claims in its lawsuit, which targets Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Financial Services and Maria Vullo, which heads the department, that the state has caused “irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm” to the organization. But, of course, the organization is making these claims in a lawsuit, which it hopes to win.

The Rolling Stone first obtained the lawsuit and published the 45-page complaint online Friday.

Over several months, the NRA has taken aim at the state of New York and its financial regulators after the state ruled the NRA’s insurance, “Carry Guard,” was illegal because it gave liability protection to gun owners for acts where there was “intentional wrongdoing.”

The NRA claims in its lawsuit that it has lost its insurance coverage, something it claims its carrier wouldn’t renew for “any price.” New York, the NRA says, has interfered with its business by coercing “insurance agencies, insurers, and banks into terminating business relationships with the NRA that were necessary to the survival of the NRA.”

“If the NRA is unable to collect donations from its members, safeguard the assets
endowed to it, apply its funds to cover media buys and other expenses integral to its political speech, and obtain basic corporate insurance coverage, it will be unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants seek to silence one of America’s oldest constitutional rights advocates. If their abuses are not enjoined, they will soon, substantially, succeed.”

For years, the NRA has boasted about its large membership, which it claims to be about 5 million, though actual figures have never been released.

The organization in its yearly tax filings shows it rakes in an average total of about $128 million. The Washington Post notes that number has varied over the years from a $72 million in 2006 to $228 million the following year.

The newspaper notes the number of members appear to spike after a mass shooting. If true, one would think the back-to-back shootings in Florida, Texas, Nevada and Tennessee would have helped bolster the organization’s finances.

The organization is one of the largest lobbying groups. During the 2016 election cycle, the group spent $61 million to back current members of Congress, most of which benefitted Republicans.

President Donald Trump received an additional $31 million in advertising during his campaign from the gun-rights group.

But, Rolling Stone reported all that spending might have spelled some trouble for the group as the NRA overspent by $46 million in 2016.

Students, who turned into gun-control advocates after the Parkland, Fla. shooting in February, applauded the news. The NRA has been their biggest target in the #NeverAgain movement, which reached a climax with the massive March for Our Lives rally in Washington.

“The NRA admitted in a recent court filing that it’s hurting financially thanks to activism by the teenage survivors of the Parkland school massacre”
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) August 2, 2018

David Hogg, one of the leaders of the student-led movement, said the news is evidence “the young people are winning.”

Others offered the NRA “thoughts and prayers,” a common offering by politicians that’s been criticized after mass shootings. Some said they didn’t believe the NRA’s claims and think the group is merely attempting to bolster its membership count and increase donations.

Comedian Chelsea Handler posted on Twitter: “Thoughts and prayers to the NRA who is saying they’re in a deep financial crisis and may be unable to exist.”

She added: “Maybe they could ask some of the Republicans they donated millions to for a loan.”

Thoughts and prayers to the NRA who is saying they’re in a deep financial crisis and may be unable to exist. Maybe they could ask some of the Republicans they donated millions to for a loan:
Richard Burr – $7M
Roy Blunt – $4M
Cory Gardner – $3M
Marco Rubio – $3M

— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 3, 2018