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

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch Apr 2019

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Sustainability is receiving increasing attention from issuers, investors and regulators. The desire to understand issuer sustainability practices and their relationship to economic performance has resulted in a proliferation of sustainability disclosure regimes and standards. The range of approaches to disclosure, however, limit the comparability and reliability of the information disclosed. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has solicited comment on whether to require expanded sustainability disclosures in issuer’s periodic financial reporting, and investors have communicated broad-based support for such expanded disclosures, but, to date, the SEC has not required general sustainability disclosure.

This Article argues that claims about the relationship ...


Constructive Ambiguity And Judicial Development Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2018

Constructive Ambiguity And Judicial Development Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Texas Gulf Sulphur decision began what has become a fifty-year project of developing U.S. insider trading regulation through judicial lawmaking. During the course of that project, the courts developed a complex, fraud-based approach to determining the scope of liability. The approach has led, in many cases, to doctrinal uncertainty, a result that is reflected in the recent decisions in Newman, Salman, and Martoma.

n the face of this uncertainty, many commentators have called for a legislative solution. This article argues, however, that the true challenge of insider trading regulation is a lack of consensus about the appropriate scope ...


Regulating Robo Advice Across The Financial Services Industry, Tom Baker, Benedict G. C. Dellaert Jan 2018

Regulating Robo Advice Across The Financial Services Industry, Tom Baker, Benedict G. C. Dellaert

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Automated financial product advisors – “robo advisors” – are emerging across the financial services industry, helping consumers choose investments, banking products, and insurance policies. Robo advisors have the potential to lower the cost and increase the quality and transparency of financial advice for consumers. But they also pose significant new challenges for regulators who are accustomed to assessing human intermediaries. A well-designed robo advisor will be honest and competent, and it will recommend only suitable products. Because humans design and implement robo advisors, however, honesty, competence, and suitability cannot simply be assumed. Moreover, robo advisors pose new scale risks that are different ...


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 ...


Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2017

Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Despite the increasing importance of shareholder voting, regulators have paid little attention to the rights of retail investors who own approximately 30% of publicly traded companies but who vote less than 30% of their shares. A substantial factor contributing to this low turnout is the antiquated mechanism by which retail investors vote. The federal proxy voting rules place primary responsibility for facilitating retail voting in the hands of custodial brokers who have limited incentives to develop workable procedures, and current regulatory restrictions impede market-based innovation that incorporate technological innovations.

One of the most promising such innovations is standing voting instructions ...


Family Ties: Salman And The Scope Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2016

Family Ties: Salman And The Scope Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

On October 5, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Salman v. United States. Salman raises questions about the scope of insider trading liability for tippees under the personal benefit test previously articulated in Dirks v. SEC. Some critics have argued the Second Circuit’s decision last year in United States v. Newman demonstrates that the personal benefit test is unduly restrictive and should be reconsidered. Salman offers an opportunity for the Supreme Court to do so.

This essay argues that Salman does not require the Court to reexamine the parameters of insider trading liability. Instead, the Court can ...


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 ...


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 ...


Federal Securities Fraud Litigation As A Lawmaking Partnership, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2015

Federal Securities Fraud Litigation As A Lawmaking Partnership, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In its most recent Halliburton II decision, the Supreme Court rejected an effort to overrule its prior decision in Basic Inc. v. Levinson. The Court reasoned that adherence to Basic was warranted by principles of stare decisis that operate with “special force” in the context of statutory interpretation. This Article offers an alternative justification for adhering to Basic—the collaboration between the Court and Congress that has led to the development of the private class action for federal securities fraud. The Article characterizes this collaboration as a lawmaking partnership and argues that such a partnership offers distinctive lawmaking advantages.

Halliburton ...


The Problem With Consenting To Insider Trading, Leo Katz Jan 2015

The Problem With Consenting To Insider Trading, Leo Katz

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Behaviorism In Finance And Securities Law, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2014

Behaviorism In Finance And Securities Law, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this Essay, I take stock (as something of an outsider) of the behavioral economics movement, focusing in particular on its interaction with traditional cost-benefit analysis and its implications for agency structure. The usual strategy for such a project—a strategy that has been used by others with behavioral economics—is to marshal the existing evidence and critically assess its significance. My approach in this Essay is somewhat different. Although I describe behavioral economics and summarize the strongest criticisms of its use, the heart of the Essay is inductive, and focuses on a particular context: financial and securities regulation, as ...


Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan Jan 2013

Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Shareholder voting has become an increasingly important focus of corporate governance, and mutual funds control a substantial percentage of shareholder voting power. The manner in which mutual funds exercise that power, however, is poorly understood. In particular, because neither mutual funds nor their advisors are beneficial owners of their portfolio holdings, there is concern that mutual fund voting may be uninformed or tainted by conflicts of interest. These concerns, if true, hamper the potential effectiveness of regulatory reforms such as proxy access and say on pay. This article analyzes mutual fund voting decisions in uncontested director elections. We find that ...


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 ...


The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2013

The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suffered a number of recent setbacks in areas ranging from enforcement policy to rulemaking. The DC Circuit’s 2011 Business Roundtable decision is one of the most serious, particularly in light of the heavy rulemaking obligations imposed on the SEC by Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. The effectiveness of the SEC in future rulemaking and the ability of its rules to survive legal challenge are currently under scrutiny.

This article critically evaluates the Business Roundtable decision in the context of the applicable statutory and structural constraints on SEC rulemaking. Toward that end, the essay ...


The Destructive Ambiguity Of Federal Proxy Access, Jill E. Fisch May 2012

The Destructive Ambiguity Of Federal Proxy Access, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After almost seventy years of debate, on August 25, 2010, the SEC adopted a federal proxy access rule. This Article examines the new rule and concludes that, despite the prolonged rule-making effort, the new rule is ambiguous in its application and unlikely to increase shareholder input into the composition of corporate boards. More troubling is the SEC’s ambiguous justification for its rule which is neither grounded in state law nor premised on a normative vision of the appropriate role of shareholder nominations in corporate governance. Although the federal proxy access rule drew an unprecedented number of comment letters and ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


Lyondell: A Note Of Approbation, William W. Bratton Jan 2010

Lyondell: A Note Of Approbation, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2010

Tracking Berle's Footsteps: The Trail Of The Modern Corporation's Law Chapter, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The Power Of Proxy Advisors: Myth Or Reality?, Stephen Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan Jan 2010

The Power Of Proxy Advisors: Myth Or Reality?, Stephen Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Recent regulatory changes increasing shareholder voting authority have focused attention on the role of proxy advisors. In particular, greater shareholder empowerment raises the question of how much proxy advisors influence voting outcomes. This Article analyzes the significance of voting recommendations issued by four proxy advisory firms in connection with uncontested director elections. We find, consistent with press reports, that Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is the most powerful proxy advisor and that, of the others, only Glass, Lewis & Co. seems to have a meaningful impact on shareholder voting. This Article also attempts to measure the impact of voting recommendations on voting ...


Rethinking The Regulation Of Securities Intermediaries, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2010

Rethinking The Regulation Of Securities Intermediaries, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article argues that existing regulation of mutual funds has serious shortcomings. In particular, the Investment Company Act, which is based primarily on principles of corporate governance and fiduciary duties, fails to support and, in some cases impedes, market forces. Existing evidence suggests that retail investing behavior and the dominance of sales agents with competing financial incentives further weakens market discipline. As a solution, the Article proposes that funds should be treated primarily as financial products rather than corporations and, correspondingly, investors should be treated primarily as consumers rather than corporate shareholders. To implement this approach, the Article proposes the ...


Heedless Globalism: The Sec's Roadmap To Accounting Convergence, William W. Bratton Jan 2010

Heedless Globalism: The Sec's Roadmap To Accounting Convergence, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has introduced a "Roadmap" that describes a process leading to mandatory use of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by domestic issuers by 2014. The SEC justifies this initiative on the grounds that global standardization yields cost savings and an ultimate gain in comparability, facilitating the search for global opportunities by u.s. investors and making u.s. capital markets more attractive to foreign issuers. This Article shows that the offered justification is inadequate. The SEC frames the matter as a choice between two institutional frameworks for standard setting, holding out high quality sets of standards ...


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 ...


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 ...


Agency Costs, Charitable Trusts, And Corporate Control: Evidence From Hershey's Kiss-Off, Jonathan Klick, Robert H. Sitkoff May 2008

Agency Costs, Charitable Trusts, And Corporate Control: Evidence From Hershey's Kiss-Off, Jonathan Klick, Robert H. Sitkoff

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In July 2002 the trustees of the Milton Hershey School Trust announced a plan to diversify the Trust’s investment portfolio by selling the Trust’s controlling interest in the Hershey Company. The Company’s stock jumped from $62.50 to $78.30 on news of the proposed sale. But the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who was then running for governor, opposed the sale on the ground that it would harm the local community. Shortly after the Attorney General obtained a preliminary injunction, the trustees abandoned the sale and the Company’s stock dropped to $65.00. Using standard event study ...


On Beyond Calpers: Survey Evidence On The Developing Role Of Public Pension Funds In Corporate Governance, Stephen Choi, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2008

On Beyond Calpers: Survey Evidence On The Developing Role Of Public Pension Funds In Corporate Governance, Stephen Choi, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


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.


Criminalization Of Corporate Law: The Impact On Shareholders And Other Constituents, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2007

Criminalization Of Corporate Law: The Impact On Shareholders And Other Constituents, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.