1.The Battle to Be Your Online Bill Collector
-------------Bankers hope cyberbilling can give them a toehold on the Net
Every year,American business sends out 29 billion bills.And by any measure,the exercise isn't much fun.For companies,printing,processing and posting a tipical consumer bill runs about 90.And for recipients ,there's not only a demand for payment,there 's a wad of solicitations that nearly everyone throws away.But for banks trying to make it on the Internet,bills are cool .Bankers see bills as surefire eyeball-grabbers in an environment where it's tough to command consumer attention——and a key to protecting their existing business managing cash for big companies.Increasingly,banks are battling high-tech competitors for control of Internet billing,or electronic-bill presentment,as it is called.
To be sure,this is a fight over a business that is in its infancy.Few bills are now sent via the Net,and online payment systems often involve a paper check.
But the technology exists to send bills from business to customers and route payments back on the Net.By the end of next year,industry analysts estimate upwards of 4.5 million households will be receiving bills online .What's more, sending and handling bills over the Net should be about 40% cheaper than paper delivery, says the Gartner Group, a research firm in Stamford, Conn.
The question is who will become the bill collector on the Net.Bankers reckon that if they can turn their Web sites into mailboxes for electronic bills ,they can become key entry points on the Net-portals,even.That would enable them to sell other financial services online. The fear is that existing portals,such as Yahoo！ or even American Online,will become centers of bill payment and , in turn ,siphon off existing bank business . banks have been slow to get into this, says Kenneth J.Kerr,a Garter analyst in Durham,N.C. But they realize there is a threat here and they need to get aboard .
Banks have their advantages.They can offer custumers simultaneous access to their bills and their money. Banks have long relationships with the billers,such as utilities and retailers,and centuries of experience in protecting people's money.
Big banks also are worried that technology companies offering bill presentment could muscle into one of their fastest-growing business-managing cash for big companies. After all ,distributing and collecting bills is a close cousin to cash management.
At this point,predicting how the industry will shake out is premature . Banks and technology companies already have formed several alliances aimed a delivering bills on the net. More combinations are likely . What's clear, though , is the banks know they are running out of time to get their Internet billing act together.
_____From Business Week/July 19,1999
2.Principles of Regulation
The following quotation describes the scope of regulation and how it affects individuals and businesses participating in a market.
All market and transactions are in practice regulated by some kind of government laws or regulations , and without regulations of any kind,most markets and types of transactions would cease to exist.Without laws, the terms of many types of agreement and transaction between individuals would be unenforceable and would cease. The choice facing individuals and society is not between regulation and no regulation ； it is how much regulation and what kinds of regulation are desirable.
This description portrays regulation as fully encompassing the systems of government and law with the power to control all markets and transactions . Economists and politicians would typically take a much narrower view of regulation,concentrating more on the targets of regulatory action or the regulatory process itself. An economist, focusing on the targets of regulatory action, might describe regulation as government policy that exerts control over a firm to elicit a desired behavior as a producer of goods or employer of labor. An economist or politician focusing on regulatoty process, however, might express a view similar to the following：
Through regulation,society attempts to substitute the decidion-making process of a regulatory commission for the action of the market mechanism……It is clear that the'process' of regulation is to substitute administrative judgment for market-place judgement. In effect, an economic environment of legal rules and regulations is used as a surrogate for the free market,and economic decisions are made by a political process.
The above description portrays regulation as a political process, substituting asministrative judgement for marketplace judgement. The description identifies the important interaction between regulation and the market and raised an important issue：when, if at all, should marketplace judgment be replaced with as ministrative judgement？
Various answers to this question have been proposed. Of primary importance is the market being considered. Different market require different amounts and types of regulation.
____From The Regulation of Insurance
3.Intervention Arrangements in the European Monetary System
Bilateral exchange rates within the European Monetary System have never been literally fixed； rather, they have fluctuated within specified limits called margins. Since August 1993 the margins for most bilateral exchange rates have been +_15 percent,although they were narrower before then. Each participating currency is also assigned a central exchange rate against the European Union currencies. When a currency's market xchange rate against the ECU diverges sufficiently from its cegogo the currency is expected to intervene and possibly take other actions to correct the situation.
In return for contributing 20 percent of their gold and dollar holdings to a European Monetary Institute,central bank in the EMS receive equivalent holding of ECUs. ECUs can be used, along with other types of international reserves, to purchase domestic currency from member central banks that acquire it in intervention opertations but do not wish to hold it.
Intervention burdens may be shared symmetrically within the EMS, but they need not be. If the French franc depreciates to its lower limit against the DM, for example,the French central bank must rectify the situation by selling DM reserves； at the same time, the German central bank must lend the necessary DM to the Bank of France.EMS rules thus call for a symmetric intervention procedure when an exchange rate reaches the limit of its range, one in which the weak-currency country loses reserves and the other gains them.
Much intervention takes place within the EMS exchange rate margins, however,and such intervention does not oblige other central banks to take action. If the bank of France buys DM assets and adds them to its reserves, for example, the Bundesbank is not require to intervene as long as the franc stays within its margins.
In addition, the symmetry of intervention at the margins is no guarantee that the resulting adjustments in national money supplies are symmetric.There is little at present to prevent a central bank from trying to shift the burden of monetary adjustment onto its EMS partners by sterilizing its foreign intervention.
________From c Economics-Theory and Policy,4th Edition
4.Freedom of Contract
The main principle of the law relating to commercial transactions is based on the freedom of the contracting parties to agree as they wish. This principle comprises the freedom to choose whether one wants to enter into a contract at all, the freedom to choose one's contracting party and to agree on the contents of the contract and its general and specific terms. However, any freedom of contract is necessarily controlled by some fundamentals principles of the applicable national law which determine how contractual rights come into being and the effect on contractual undertaking of fraud, misleading statements, duress,coercion, mistake or other invalidating causes. It should also be observed that it may be impossible to obtain enforcement of some contracts and that the modalities of enforcement may differ in different jurisdictions.
Generally one cannot expect enforcement of contracts which are illegal in the jurisdiction concerned or which may have such an object that redress to enforcement authorities is unavailable. This is true for most illegal contracts as one cannot very well expect organs of the state to extend a helpful hand to those who have engaged in prohibited of undesirable activities. The same reluctance may well apply to contracts which are not illegal but merely of such a nature that the contracting parties should have to arrange their affairs without the assistance of the authorities, e.g. wagering contract or games for money.
In modern commerce, it would normally be impracticable to let the contracting parties individually negotiate each and every contract term. Instead, they would in most cases use ready-made texts appearing in different standard forms or clauses.It is also possible to use computerized texts available for different types of contracts. If so, it is only theoretically possible to base contract interpretation on the actual will and intention of the contracting parties themselves. Such standardised text have to be interpreted objectively and reference to contractual intent represents no more than a lip-service to the traditional paradigm of deriving the contents of contract solely from the will of the parties. The standard to be used is to assess how a reasonable person would understand the text rather than to examine how the actual contracting parties understood it, if they even thought about it at all. Such standardised texts originate from different sources. In some cases they are unilaterally prepared by one of the contracting parties and, in other cases,they are elaborated under the auspices of various trade organisations usually only representing one of the parties in a particular type of contractual relationship. However, trade organisations representing both parties in the contractual relationship may also have agreed on a standardised text, which is then usually called an agreed document. International organisations,such as the International Chamber of Commerce, Promote the elaboration of standard texts and principles which could be incorporated into commercial contracts by reference, In some cases, such standardised texts and principles could attain the status of international usage of trade and, if so, they could be deemed to govern the contracting relationship even in the absence of express reference.
________From Igogo, by ICC
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