May 12, 2014
Summer Reading from Colorado’s Business Law Colloquium
Posted by Erik Gerding

We enjoyed a great lineup of speakers and cutting edge scholarship here in Boulder this past semester as part of CU’s Business Law Colloquium.  The following papers make for excellent start-of-the-summer reading:

Dan Katz (Michigan State): Quantitative Legal Prediction – or – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Preparing for the Data Driven Future of the Legal Services Industry: a provocative look at Big Data will help clients analyze everything from whether to bring or settle a lawsuit to how to hire legal counsel.  Katz examines implications for legal education.

Rob Jackson (Columbia): Toward a Constitutional Review of the Poison Pill (with Lucian Bebchuk): Jackson and Bebchuk kicked a hornet’s nest with their argument that some state antitakeover statutes (and, by extension, poison pills under those statutes) may be preempted by the Williams Act.  See here for the rapid fire response from Martin Lipton.

Brad Bernthal (Colorado): What the Advocate’s Playbook Reveals About FCC Institutional Tendencies in an Innovation Age: my co-teacher interviewed telecom lawyers to map out both their strategies for influencing the Federal Communications Commission and what these strategies mean for stifling innovation in that agency.

Kate Judge (Columbia): Intermediary Influence:  Judge examines the mechanisms by which intermediaries – both financial and otherwise – engage in rent-seeking rather than lowering transaction costs for market participants.  The paper helps explain everything from Tesla’s ongoing fight with the Great State of New Jersey to sell cars without relying on dealers to entrenchment by large financial conglomerates.  

Lynn Stout (Cornell): Killing Conscience: The Unintended Behavioral Consequences of 'Pay For Performance': Stout argues that pay for performance compensation in companies undermines ethical behavior by framing choices in terms of monetary reward.  This adds to the growing literature on compliance which ranges from Tom Tyler’s germinal work to Tung & Henderson, who argue for adapting pay for performance for regulators.

Steven Schwarcz (Duke): The Governance Structure of Shadow Banking: Rethinking Assumptions About Limited Liability: Schwarcz argues for imposing additional liability on the “owner-managers” of some shadow banking entities to dampen the moral hazard and excessive risk taking by these entities, which contributed to the financial crisis.  This paper joins a chorus of other papers arguing to using shareholder  or director & officer liability mechanisms to fight systemic risk.  (See Hill & PainterAdmati, Conti-Brown, & Pfleiderer; and Armour & Gordon).

[I’ll inject myself editorially on this one paper: this is a provocative idea, but one that would make debt even cheaper relative to equity than it already is.  This would encourage firms to ratchet up already high levels of leverage.  I looked at the expansion of limited liability in Britain in the 18th Century in Chapter 2 of my book.  The good news for Schwarcz’s proposal from this history: expansions of limited liability seem to have coincided and contributed to the booms in the cycle of financial crises in that country that occurred every 10 years in that country.  The bad news: unlimited liability for shareholders does not seem to have staved off crises and likely contributed to the contagion in the Panic of 1825.]

The CU Business Law Colloquium also heard from Gordon Smith (BYU), Jim Cox (Duke), Sharon Matusik (Colorado – Business), Afra Afsharipour (UC Davis), Jesse Fried (Harvard), and Brian Broughman (Indiana).  Their papers are not yet up on ssrn.

Corporate Governance, Corporate Law, Finance, Financial Crisis, Financial Institutions, Legal Scholarship | Bookmark

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