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Dodd-Frank "conflict mineral" regulations

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The "conflict mineral" regulations of Dodd-Frank, requiring expensive investigation and disclosure of the sourcing of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold used in the products of 6,000 publicly traded companies, were approved by a 3-2 vote of the SEC, despite lack of evidence that the benefits of such disclosure outweigh the billions of dollars of burden to American industry—and that cost figure is before the inevitable rent-seeking strike-suit securities litigation over alleged technical violations of disclosure. [WSJ]

As Professor Bainbridge points out, the Commissioner Paredes dissent foreshadows a D.C. Circuit reversal for failure to assess economic consequences, a la Business Roundtable.

The underlying law is foolish. Even if I refuse to buy tungsten from the Congolese because of concerns that the sale will directly fund evildoing, when I buy tungsten from the Chinese instead (who are no human-rights angels), Congolese warlords still indirectly benefit because they can sell their tungsten for more money to other buyers who do not purchase from the Chinese. Moreover, the law has had devastating, if predictable, unintended consequences for innocent Congolese.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

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