The search seedlings are sprouting nicely, so it is time for a second episode of "Virtually Unregulated" Watch, the continuing effort to see what's haunting the regulatory mindscape. (In case you missed it, and you probably did, Episode 1 is here.)
"Virtually Unregulated" search at Google News--December 16, 2010--found the following subjects on the minds of virtual regulators:
1. Retailer restocking fees. "[Sen. Chuck Schumer]...wants the FTC to determine if failing to disclose the restocking fee is a deceptive practice and to require retailers to prominently display that the fee will be charged."
2. Elder-care mediation (a voluntary service). "'Just about anyone can hang out a shingle and say they're an elder mediator,' said Penny Hommel, co-director of the nonprofit Center for Social Gerontology in Ann Arbor, Mich."
3. Long Island Power Authority. "LIPA operates virtually unregulated. The board of trustees is appointed by the governor and state legislative leaders, and the Public Service Commission has limited jurisdiction."
4. "AIG and other insurance companies" -- from a commenter on a brief story about Ben Bernanke
5. Hedge funds. But, no call to arms here. Clearly bucking the trend in usage of the phrase.
6. Advertising of "ultra-processed foods and drinks." Article by "nutrition and public policy expert Marion Nestle" (no relation?) and brought to you by Cookie Crisp® cereal. Just kidding about that last part.
7. Fishing catches (looking back to a 1967 column as representing "the virtually unregulated days")
8. Agricultural Labor in Southern Florida. "In the world of agricultural industry, a world sustained by virtually unregulated labor, it is large corporations that decide both prices and working conditions."
9. "Credit companies"--again from a commenter. Article is about record debt-to-income ratio among Canadians.
10. "...the sprawling derivatives market, hedge funds and private equity, all dimly lit corners of the financial world..." Never fear: "Proposed rules issued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission showed regulators stepping cautiously as they implement hundreds of new regulations mandated in July by Congress."
That's it for VUW #2. Watch this space for future snapshots of how this panic-inducing phrase is being bandied about. Or, heck, run your own search. It's a virtually freeish country.