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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Deregulating Derivatives Led To Disaster, And Why Re-Regulating Them Can Prevent Another, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2015

How Deregulating Derivatives Led To Disaster, And Why Re-Regulating Them Can Prevent Another, Lynn A. Stout

Lynn A. Stout

When credit markets froze up in the fall of 2008, many economists pronounced the crisis both inexplicable and unforeseeable. That’s because they were economists, not lawyers. Lawyers who specialize in financial regulation, and especially the small cadre who specialize in derivatives regulation, understood what went wrong. (Some even predicted it.) That’s because the roots of the catastrophe lay not in changes in the markets, but changes in the law. Perhaps the most important of those changes was the U.S. Congress’s decision to deregulate financial derivatives with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000. Prior to ...


Derivatives And The Legal Origin Of The 2008 Credit Crisis, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2015

Derivatives And The Legal Origin Of The 2008 Credit Crisis, Lynn A. Stout

Lynn A. Stout

Experts still debate what caused the credit crisis of 2008. This Article argues that dubious honor belongs, first and foremost, to a little-known statute called the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA). Put simply, the credit crisis was not primarily due to changes in the markets; it was due to changes in the law. In particular, the crisis was the direct and foreseeable (and in fact foreseen by the author and others) consequence of the CFMA’s sudden and wholesale removal of centuries-old legal constraints on speculative trading in over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. Derivative contracts are probabilistic bets on future ...


Regulate Otc Derivatives By Deregulating Them, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2015

Regulate Otc Derivatives By Deregulating Them, Lynn A. Stout

Lynn A. Stout

When credit markets froze up in the fall of 2008, many economists pronounced the crisis inexplicable and unforeseeable. Lawyers who specialize in financial regulation, and especially the small cadre who specialize in derivatives regulation, knew better.That's because the roots of the catastrophe lay not in changes in the markets, but changes in the law. In particular, the credit crisis can be traced to Congress's 2000 passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which radically altered the traditional legal approach to financial derivatives. This shift in the legal treatment of financial derivatives has brought the banking system to ...


Betting The Bank: How Derivatives Trading Under Conditions Of Uncertainty Can Increase Risks And Erode Returns In Financial Markets, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2015

Betting The Bank: How Derivatives Trading Under Conditions Of Uncertainty Can Increase Risks And Erode Returns In Financial Markets, Lynn A. Stout

Lynn A. Stout

On April 12, 1994, Procter & Gamble Co. announced that it had incurred pre-tax losses of $157 million from trading in leveraged interest rate swaps, a form of financial derivative. At the time that figure seemed enormous. Yet within a year, Procter & Gamble's misfortune had been overshadowed by that of Orange County, a wealthy California enclave that lost an estimated $2.5 billion of its investment fund as a result of dealings in reverse-repurchase agreements, inverse floaters, and other arcane instruments. Recent months have seen further losses by investment funds, government entities, and even colleges and Native American tribes. Perhaps ...


Regulate Otc Derivatives By Deregulating Them: Response To Comments, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2015

Regulate Otc Derivatives By Deregulating Them: Response To Comments, Lynn A. Stout

Lynn A. Stout

Response to comments by Jean Helwege, Peter Wallison, and Craig Pirrong on the author's article, "Regulate OTC Derivatives By Deregulating Them." Article predates the author's affiliation with Cornell Law School.


Gambling On Our Financial Future: How The Federal Government Fiddles While State Common Law Is A Safer Bet To Prevent Another Financial Collapse, Brian M. Mccall Dec 2013

Gambling On Our Financial Future: How The Federal Government Fiddles While State Common Law Is A Safer Bet To Prevent Another Financial Collapse, Brian M. Mccall

Brian M McCall

Many politicians and commentators agree that credit default swaps (CDS) played a significant role in the financial crisis of 2008. Yet, few who observe this role are aware that CDS were set loose on the economy by the federal pre-emption of thousands of years of public policy. Since the time of Aristotle law, philosophy and public policy have been hostile to gambling. Viewed as a socially unproductive zero sum wealth transfer, the law has generally refused to permit parties to use the courts to enforce wagers. Courts and legislatures worked in harmony to control and in some cases punish financial ...