Rethinking Financial Regulation: Simple Transparency, Open Source and XML

Published on NextBigFuture, March 14, 2009.

Even if you have open access to current public information, the warehouse with the Lost Ark of Indiana Jones is not simply transparent. We need open public policing of the financial system. Creating an empowered social network where the community of investors can help protect each other from being ripped off. Empowering a global financial neighborhood watch. Wired Magazine publishes a specific open regulation proposal …

… Banks have to issue Free Writing Prospectus (FWP) Every bank that issues mortgage-backed securities—pools of home loans packaged together and sold as a single entity—is required to file a free writing prospectus, which lists every individual mortgage in each pool. An FWP contains endless columns of pure data, most of which don’t even track from page to page. And each FWP is different. It took five professionals three months to take FWP data and standardize it so that it could be comparable. The result of that work is private. It is only for the use of the company who hired thos professionals so that the hiring company has an edge.

2. Today, nearly 50 companies report their information in XBRL to the SEC. XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is a version of XML.

A few years ago, when banking regulators started requiring filings in XBRL from its member banks, it found that the time it took auditors to review a bank’s quarterly financial information dropped from about 70 days to two. More regulators are catching on: Last December, the SEC announced that by June, every company with a market capitalization over $5 billion will be required to submit all filings using the format. And all publicly traded companies and mutual funds must follow suit by 2011 … (full text, March 14, 2009).

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