Monthly Archive for October, 2008

OTA on Financial Services Industry

A 1990 OTA report, Electronic Bulls and Bears: U.S. Securities Markets and Information Technology,  notes that “Computer-assisted trading strategies can cause short-term price volatility, or spread selling or buying pressure from one market to others.”  The report was written in response to requests by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Government Operations to assess the role of communication and information technologies in the securities markets.

OTA said, “Futures and options markets are criticized for developing products that are suspected of increasing the likelihood of a market crash. These problems call for a re-examination of public policies including changes in the regulatory structure.”  The report also states, “The private sector cannot achieve, without government assistance, some of the necessary adjustments to keep American markets strongly competitive and to protect American investors and financial systems.”

In another 1990 report, Trading Around the Clock: Global Securities Markets and Information Technology, OTA describes the forces encouraging the development of international securities markets, the obstacles that must be overcome, and the major sources of unnecessary risk.  The report describes three possible international regulatory schemes and states, “Effective response to a major securities market break will in the future require international as well as domestic actions. The central issue may be how to prevent a liquidity crisis from becoming a solvency crisis.”

In a 1984 report, Effects of Information Technology on Financial Services Systems, OTA described new technologies and other changes in the financial service industry and warned that in large amounts of funds were being moved from accounts that are insured and closely supervised to accounts that offer higher return but have little, if any, Federal protection.  This report was part of a study requested in 1982 by the House Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs; the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  The committees requested OTA to study the impacts of information processing and telecommunication technologies on financial service systems.

Electromagnetic Fields

By Curtis Petty | Active Rain | October 13, 2008

A real estate blog entry discusses “prudent avoidance” of  electric and magnetic fields and credits an  OTA report, Biological Effects of Power Frequency: Electric and Magnetic Field. This May 1989 background paper (p. 77) suggests several approaches to  risk assessment and regulation of electric and magnetic fields.

Marylaine Block’s Picks of the Week

By Marylaine Block | On The Same Page | August 29, 2008

A Sweetwater County library, Wyoming, blog mentions the FAS OTA Archive.

Value Free, Value Added

By Linda Garcia | Exploring Interdisciplinarity | September 14, 2008

This blog post discusses examples of how some political leaders have used “…the work of scientists to cloak private interests in what is ostensibly value free analysis.” What may be needed is more value added science, exemplified by OTA’s and the National Academy of Sciences’ work which is  “… the product of a dialogue among diverse actors–hard scientists, social scientists, and value based interests alike.”

Will lasers brighten nuclear’s future?

By Mark Clayton | Christian Science Monitor | August 27, 2008

An article about nuclear power plants and laser isotope separation refers to a 1977 OTA report, Nuclear Proliferation and Safeguards Appendix Volume II Part 2.

Oak Ridge, TN

Born and Raised in the South | September 3, 2008

A blog post about the history of Oak Ridge has a few biographical notes about John H. Gibbons, Director of OTA from 1979 to 1993.