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Full-Text Articles in Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics

Coin-Operated Capitalism, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman, Jeremy Sklaroff, David A. Wishnick Jan 2019

Coin-Operated Capitalism, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman, Jeremy Sklaroff, David A. Wishnick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article presents the legal literature’s first detailed analysis of the inner workings of Initial Coin Offerings. We characterize the ICO as an example of financial innovation, placing it in kinship with venture capital contracting, asset securitization, and (obviously) the IPO. We also take the form seriously as an example of technological innovation, where promoters are beginning to effectuate their promises to investors through computer code, rather than traditional contract. To understand the dynamics of this shift, we first collect contracts, “white papers,” and other contract-like documents for the fifty top-grossing ICOs of 2017. We then analyze how such ...


Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr. Apr 2017

Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper examines the effects of hedge fund activism and so-called wolf pack activity on the ordinary human beings—the human investors—who fund our capital markets but who, as indirect of owners of corporate equity, have only limited direct power to ensure that the capital they contribute is deployed to serve their welfare and in turn the broader social good.

Most human investors in fact depend much more on their labor than on their equity for their wealth and therefore care deeply about whether our corporate governance system creates incentives for corporations to create and sustain jobs for them ...


The Importance Of Being Dismissive: The Efficiency Role Of Pleading Stage Evaluation Of Shareholder Litigation, Lawrence A. Hamermesh, Michael L. Wachter Aug 2015

The Importance Of Being Dismissive: The Efficiency Role Of Pleading Stage Evaluation Of Shareholder Litigation, Lawrence A. Hamermesh, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It has been claimed that the risk/reward dynamics of shareholder litigation have encouraged quick settlements with substantial attorneys’ fee awards but no payment to shareholders, regardless of the merits of the case. Fee-shifting charter and bylaw provisions may be too blunt a tool to control agency costs associated with excessive shareholder litigation, and are in any event now prohibited by Delaware statute. We claim, however, that active judicial supervision of public company shareholder litigation at an early stage reduces the costs of frivolous litigation to shareholders by separating meritorious from unmeritorious litigation before the full costs of discovery are ...


Corporate Law Doctrine And The Legacy Of American Legal Realism, Edward B. Rock Jan 2015

Corporate Law Doctrine And The Legacy Of American Legal Realism, Edward B. Rock

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this contribution to a symposium on "Legal Realism and Legal Doctrine," I examine the role that jurisprudence plays in corporate law doctrine. Through an examination of paired cases from the United States and United Kingdom, I offer a case study of the contrasting influence on corporate law judging of American Legal Realism versus traditional U.K. Doctrinalism.

Specialist judges in both systems, aided by specialist lawyers, clearly identify and understand the core policy issues involved in a dispute and arrive at sensible results. Adjusting for differences in background law and institutions, it seems likely that the disputes would ultimately ...


The Mess At Morgan: Risk, Incentives And Shareholder Empowerment, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2015

The Mess At Morgan: Risk, Incentives And Shareholder Empowerment, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The financial crisis of 2008 focused increasing attention on corporate America and, in particular, the risk-taking behavior of large financial institutions. A growing appreciation of the “public” nature of the corporation resulted in a substantial number of high profile enforcement actions. In addition, demands for greater accountability led policymakers to attempt to harness the corporation’s internal decision-making structure, in the name of improved corporate governance, to further the interest of non-shareholder stakeholders. Dodd-Frank’s advisory vote on executive compensation is an example.

This essay argues that the effort to employ shareholders as agents of public values and, thereby, to ...


From Chrysler And General Motors To Detroit, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

From Chrysler And General Motors To Detroit, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In the past five years, three of the most remarkable bankruptcy cases in American history have come out of Detroit: the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors in 2009, and of Detroit itself in 2012. The principal objective of this Article is simply to show that the Grand Bargain at the heart of the Detroit bankruptcy is the direct offspring of the bankruptcy sale transactions that were used to restructure Chrysler and GM. The proponents of Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” never would have dreamed up the transaction were it not for the federal government-engineered carmaker bankruptcies. The Article’s second ...


The (Il)Legitimacy Of Bankruptcies For The Benefit Of Secured Creditors, Charles W. Mooney Jr. Jan 2015

The (Il)Legitimacy Of Bankruptcies For The Benefit Of Secured Creditors, Charles W. Mooney Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper explores the legitimacy—or illegitimacy—of filing and maintaining a case under the Bankruptcy Code when the sole or principal beneficiary or beneficiaries of the case would be a secured creditor or secured creditors. In the situation posited here, the application of the usual distributional priority rules would not produce any distribution for the general, unsecured creditors of the debtor. In the prototypical case virtually all of the assets of the debtor would be subject to secured claims securing obligations that exceed the value of the collateral, i.e., the secured creditor would be undersecured and there would ...


Introduction To Institutional Investor Activism: Hedge Funds And Private Equity, Economics And Regulation, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery Jan 2015

Introduction To Institutional Investor Activism: Hedge Funds And Private Equity, Economics And Regulation, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The increase in institutional ownership of recent decades has been accompanied by an enhanced role played by institutions in monitoring companies’ corporate governance behaviour. Activist hedge funds and private equity firms have achieved a degree of success in actively shaping the business plans of target firms. They may be characterized as pursuing a common goal – in the words used in the OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance, both seek ‘to increase the market value of their pooled capital through active engagement with individual public companies. This engagement may include demands for changes in management, the composition of the board, dividend ...


Bankers And Chancellors, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2014

Bankers And Chancellors, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Delaware Chancery Court recently squared off against the investment banking world with a series of rulings that tie Revlon violations to banker conflicts of interest. Critics charge the Court with slamming down fiduciary principles of self-abnegation in a business context where they have no place or, contrariwise, letting culpable banks off the hook with ineffectual slaps on the wrist. This Article addresses this controversy, offering a sustained look at the banker-client advisory relationship. We pose a clear answer to the questions raised: although this is nominally fiduciary territory, both banker-client relationships and the Chancery Court’s recent interventions are ...


Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock Jan 2013

Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After more than eighty years of sustained attention, the master problem of U.S. corporate law—the separation of ownership and control—has mostly been brought under control. This resolution has occurred more through changes in market and corporate practices than through changes in the law. This Article explores how corporate law and practice are adapting to the new shareholder-centric reality that has emerged.

Because solving the shareholder–manager agency cost problem aggravates shareholder–creditor agency costs, I focus on implications for creditors. After considering how debt contracts, compensation arrangements, and governance structures can work together to limit shareholder–creditor ...


A Transactional Genealogy Of Scandal: From Michael Milken To Enron To Goldman Sachs, William W. Bratton, Adam J. Levitin Jan 2013

A Transactional Genealogy Of Scandal: From Michael Milken To Enron To Goldman Sachs, William W. Bratton, Adam J. Levitin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Three scandals have reshaped business regulation over the past thirty years: the securities fraud prosecution of Michael Milken in 1988, the Enron implosion of 2001, and the Goldman Sachs “ABACUS” enforcement action of 2010. The scandals have always been seen as unrelated. This Article highlights a previously unnoticed transactional affinity tying these scandals together—a deal structure known as the synthetic collateralized debt obligation involving the use of a special purpose entity (“SPE”). The SPE is a new and widely used form of corporate alter ego designed to undertake transactions for its creator’s accounting and regulatory benefit.

The SPE ...


A Dialogue On The Costs And Benefits Of Automatic Stays For Derivatives And Repurchase Agreements, Darrell Duffie, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2012

A Dialogue On The Costs And Benefits Of Automatic Stays For Derivatives And Repurchase Agreements, Darrell Duffie, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For nearly two years, the two of us have had a running discussion of the costs and benefits of automatic stays in bankruptcy for qualified financial contracts (QFCs) such as derivatives and repurchase agreements, particularly those held by systemically important major dealer banks. Under current U.S. bankruptcy law, these contracts are exempted from the automatic stay. The advantages and disadvantages of this treatment have been a matter of significant debate for the past decade, particularly since the 2008 crisis.

After some background on AFCs and automatic stays, we provide our joint analysis of the costs and benefits of stays ...


Making Sense Of The New Financial Deal, David A. Skeel Jr. Apr 2011

Making Sense Of The New Financial Deal, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this Essay, I assess the enactment and implications of the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. To set the stage, I begin by very briefly reviewing the causes of the crisis. I then argue that the legislation has two very clear objectives. The first is to limit the risk of the shadow banking system by more carefully regulating the key instruments and institutions of contemporary finance. The second objective is to limit the damage in the event one of these giant institutions fails. While the new regulation of the instruments of contemporary finance—including clearing ...


At The Conjunction Of Love And Money: Comment On Julie A. Nelson, Does Profit-Seeking Rule Out Love? Evidence (Or Not) From Economics And Law, William W. Bratton Jan 2011

At The Conjunction Of Love And Money: Comment On Julie A. Nelson, Does Profit-Seeking Rule Out Love? Evidence (Or Not) From Economics And Law, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Inside-Out Corporate Governance, David A. Skeel Jr., Vijit Chahar, Alexander Clark, Mia Howard, Bijun Huang, Federico Lasconi, A.G. Leventhal, Matthew Makover, Randi Milgrim, David Payne, Romy Rahme, Nikki Sachdeva, Zachary Scott Jan 2011

Inside-Out Corporate Governance, David A. Skeel Jr., Vijit Chahar, Alexander Clark, Mia Howard, Bijun Huang, Federico Lasconi, A.G. Leventhal, Matthew Makover, Randi Milgrim, David Payne, Romy Rahme, Nikki Sachdeva, Zachary Scott

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Until late in the twentieth century, internal corporate governance—that is, decision making by the principal constituencies of the firm—was clearly distinct from outside oversight by regulators, auditors and credit rating agencies, and markets. With the 1980s takeover wave and hedge funds’ and equity funds’ more recent involvement in corporate governance, the distinction between inside and outside governance has eroded. The tools of inside governance are now routinely employed by governance outsiders, intertwining the two traditional modes of governance. We argue in this Article that the shift has created a new governance paradigm, which we call inside-out corporate governance ...


The Political Economy Of Fraud On The Market, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2011

The Political Economy Of Fraud On The Market, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The New Financial Deal: Understanding The Dodd-Frank Act And Its (Unintended) Consequences, David A. Skeel Jr. Oct 2010

The New Financial Deal: Understanding The Dodd-Frank Act And Its (Unintended) Consequences, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Contrary to rumors that the Dodd-Frank Act is an incoherent mess, its 2,319 pages have two very clear objectives: limiting the risk of the shadow banking system by more carefully regulating derivatives and large financial institutions; and limiting the damage caused by a financial institution’s failure. The new legislation also has a theme: government partnership with the largest Wall Street banks. The vision emerged almost by accident from the Bear Stearns and AIG bailouts of 2008 and the commandeering of the bankruptcy process to rescue Chrysler and GM in 2009. Its implications for derivatives regulation could prove beneficial ...


A Comprehensive Theory Of Deal Structure: Understanding How Transactional Structure Creates Value, Michael S. Knoll, Daniel M. G. Raff Jan 2010

A Comprehensive Theory Of Deal Structure: Understanding How Transactional Structure Creates Value, Michael S. Knoll, Daniel M. G. Raff

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The Overstated Promise Of Corporate Governance, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2010

The Overstated Promise Of Corporate Governance, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Bankruptcy Or Bailouts?, Kenneth M. Ayotte, David A. Skeel Jr. Mar 2009

Bankruptcy Or Bailouts?, Kenneth M. Ayotte, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The usual reaction if one mentions bankruptcy as a mechanism for addressing a financial institution’s default is incredulity. Those who favor the rescue of troubled financial institutions, and even those who prefer that their assets be promptly sold to a healthier institution, treat bankruptcy as anathema. Everyone seems to agree that nothing good can come from bankruptcy. Indeed, the Chapter 11 filing by Lehman Brothers has been singled out by many the primary cause of the severe economic and financial contraction that followed, and proof that bankruptcy is disorderly and ineffective. As a result, ad-hoc rescue lending to avoid ...


Confronting The Circularity Problem In Private Securities Litigation, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2009

Confronting The Circularity Problem In Private Securities Litigation, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Many critics argue that private securities litigation fails effectively either to deter corporate misconduct or to compensate defrauded investors. In particular, commentators reason that damages reflect socially inefficient transfer payments—the so-called circularity problem. Fox and Mitchell address the circularity problem by identifying new reasons why private litigation is an effective deterrent, focusing on the role of disclosure in improving corporate governance. The corporate governance rationale for securities regulation is more powerful than the authors recognize. By collecting and using corporate information in their trading decisions, informed investors play a critical role in enhancing market efficiency. This efficiency, in turn ...


Competing Narratives In Corporate Bankruptcy: Debtor In Control Vs. No Time To Spare, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2009

Competing Narratives In Corporate Bankruptcy: Debtor In Control Vs. No Time To Spare, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

When a company like Chrysler or United Airlines files for bankruptcy, it offers narrative explaining the way out of its predicament. In support of its claim that the business is worth saving, the company may argue that it simply needs time to renegotiate its obligations with its creditors. Alternatively, it may say that asset values are deteriorating rapidly and it is imperative that the bankruptcy court immediately approve a sale of the company, or some other rapid disposition. These two possibilities correspond to the principal resolution narratives in current Chapter 11 bankruptcy practice, which I refer to as Debtor in ...


Top Cop Or Regulatory Flop? The Sec At 75, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2009

Top Cop Or Regulatory Flop? The Sec At 75, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In their forthcoming article, Redesigning the SEC: Does the Treasury Have a Better Idea?, Professors John C. Coffee, Jr., and Hillary Sale offer compelling reasons to rethink the SEC’s role. This article extends that analysis, evaluating the SEC’s responsibility for the current financial crisis and its potential future role in regulation of the capital markets. In particular, the article identifies critical failures in the SEC’s performance in its core competencies of enforcement, financial transparency, and investor protection. The article argues that these failures are not the result, as suggested by the Treasury Department Blueprint, of a balkanized ...


Bankruptcy Boundary Games, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2009

Bankruptcy Boundary Games, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For the past several decades, Congress has steadily expanded the exclusion of securities market operations from core bankruptcy protections. This Article focuses on three of the most important of these issues: the exclusion of brokerage firms from Chapter 11; the protection of settlement payments from avoidance as preferences or fraudulent conveyances; and the exemption of derivatives from the automatic stay and other basic bankruptcy provisions. In Parts I, II and III of the Article, I consider each of the issues in turn, showing that each has had serious unintended consequences. Both Drexel Burnham and Lehman Brothers evaded the brokerage exclusion ...


Private Equity's Three Lessons For Agency Theory, William W. Bratton Jan 2008

Private Equity's Three Lessons For Agency Theory, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Hedge Funds And Governance Targets, William W. Bratton Jan 2007

Hedge Funds And Governance Targets, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Corporate governance interventions by hedge fund shareholders are triggering debates between advocates of management empowerment and advocates of aggressive monitoring by actors in the capital markets. This Article intervenes with an empirical question: What, based on the record so far, have the hedge funds actually done to their targets? Information has been collected on 130 domestic firms identified in the business press since 2002 as targets of activist hedge funds, including the funds’ demands, their tactics, and the results of their interventions for the targets’ governance and finance. The survey results show that the hedge funds have an enviable record ...


Private Standards, Public Governance: A New Look At The Financial Accounting Standards Board, William W. Bratton Jan 2007

Private Standards, Public Governance: A New Look At The Financial Accounting Standards Board, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (the “FASB”) presents a puzzle: How has this private standard setter managed simultaneously (1) to remain independent, (2) to achieve institutional stability and legitimacy, and (3) to operate in a politicized context in the teeth of op-position from its own constituents? This Article looks to governance design to account for this institutional success. The FASB’s founders made a strategic choice to create a regulatory agency that sought independence rather than political responsiveness. The FASB also set out a coherent theory of accounting, the “Conceptual Framework,” to contain and direct its decisions. The Conceptual Framework ...


The Equilibrium Content Of Corporate Federalism, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery Jan 2006

The Equilibrium Content Of Corporate Federalism, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The New Dividend Puzzle, William W. Bratton Jan 2005

The New Dividend Puzzle, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Gaming Delaware, William W. Bratton Jan 2004

Gaming Delaware, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.