Few retailers in the world have as big and complex of a supply chain as Walmart. But the interaction between suppliers and retailers has evolved in recent years. Former Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke was on hand at CME Group’s 8th annual Global Financial Leadership Conference to discuss how the retail giant’s relationship with suppliers has evolved.

Duke was interviewed by Daniel Glickman, vice president of the Aspen Institute and former US secretary of agriculture, who pointed out just how crucial Walmart has become for many companies in its supply chain.

“I’ve talked to some of your suppliers and some of them will quietly say they sometimes worry more about what Walmart says than what the US government says because they said you have more impact on their lives in some cases than some regulatory edict coming out of Washington,” Glickman told Duke.

Duke responded that the old days of simply placing demands on suppliers is over. (read more…)

The Milken Institute is working to give policymakers, media, and the academic community a deeper base of knowledge when it comes to global banking issues. The Institute’s recent launch of GlobalBanking.org offers users a new and unique way of accessing information on banking systems worldwide and their regulatory environment. The site aggregates World Bank data from 180 countries in addition to its own independent research and analysis on an open platform that is accessible to anyone.

“Never before has this kind of information been collected and presented in such an easy-to-use way,” said Staci Warden, executive director of the Milken Institute’s Center for Financial Markets. “We are confident that it will be a tremendous resource for anyone working in this area.”

The aim of GlobalBanking.org is to build a database of international banking facts and figures, increasing transparency regarding the worldwide banking environment. Key features include ease of use and the ability to incorporate data into independent research by users; interactive charts and maps; up-to-date news and expert commentary, and global banking reports. (read more…)

While its creation was lamented by some and championed by others, industry experts say the performance thus far of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been a mixed-bag. The Financial Services Roundtable assembled thought leaders as part of its “How is the CFPB Doing? The Advocates’ Perspective” panel discussion in Washington, D.C. A few of the key highlights included:

  • Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin was the most outspoken member of the panel, saying the CFPB may yet be finding its sea legs as experienced staff complete their “regulatory tourist stints” and depart the Bureau, leaving behind an undetermined culture. Levitin said the CFPB has enjoyed the benefits of a “we had to do this” kind of approach while it has tackled rule-makings many viewed as “mandatory.” However, going forward the Bureau will be dealing with discretionary issues that may find it “swimming in deeper waters.” One unique outcome Levitin noted is the money is the “disgorgement” of funds for misdeeds, also known as money going back to consumers.
  • (read more…)

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises hits bookstores on Monday. Ahead of the release, Geithner sat down for some yummy food and friendly conversation with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times. Here is a dissection of the puff piece that ensued.

  • “When the housing bubble burst in 2008, Geithner was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Along with Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary at the time, Geithner was charged with essentially saving the economy from sliding into the abyss.” — Let’s just skip the part about how if those same three guys had kinda, maybe, sorta been doing their jobs all along, they probably wouldn’t have found themselves staring into such a daunting “abyss.”
  • “The perception that he was overmatched for the position was strengthened when he responded to a congressman’s question at a second hearing by saying: “I just want to correct one thing.
  • (read more…)

A collection of stories from SmartBrief publications and around the web…

Wait … Derivatives are good for the economy?: With all the bad-mouthing out there about derivatives, you might be surprised to learn that the very smart people at the Milken Institute have completed a study that found derivatives are actually a net positive for the economy. “This study charts the benefits to the wider economy from the use of financial derivatives and is a first-of-its-kind examination of derivatives’ quantitative impact on economic growth. It charts the positive effects in the U.S. economy from their use, both in the financial and non-financial sectors.”

Explaining last year’s Nobel winners: Count me among the people who struggled to connect the dots between the work of the three winners of last year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences – Eugene Fama, Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen. This Harvard Business Review blog post nails it. (read more…)