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Full-Text Articles in Law

Guarantor Of Last Resort: Is There A Better Alternative?, Morgan Ricks May 2019

Guarantor Of Last Resort: Is There A Better Alternative?, Morgan Ricks

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

What should the government’s financial-crisis-response toolkit consist of? How should we think about its optimal scope and design? In Kate Judge offers a novel perspective on these questions. At a high level she agrees with Summers, Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner that the existing toolkit is inadequate. In this respect she joins a number of other legal scholars and commentators. . .

The day after Lehman’s bankruptcy, Ken Rogoff—among the world’s leading experts on financial crises—wrote an op-ed titled “No More Creampuffs.” He applauded regulators for letting Lehman fail and “forc[ing] some discipline onto the system.” (To ...


Democracy And Dysfunction: Rural Electric Cooperatives And The Surprising Persistence Of The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Randall S. Thomas, Debra C. Jeter, Harwell Wells Jan 2018

Democracy And Dysfunction: Rural Electric Cooperatives And The Surprising Persistence Of The Separation Of Ownership And Control, Randall S. Thomas, Debra C. Jeter, Harwell Wells

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Since the 1930s, corporate law scholarship has focused narrowly on the public corporation and the problem of the separation of ownership and control-a problem many now believe has been mitigated or even solved. With rare exceptions, scholars have paid far less heed to other business forms that still play important roles in the American economy. In this Article, we examine a significant and almost completely overlooked business form, the Rural Electric Cooperative (REC). RECs were founded in a moment of optimism during the New Deal. As with other cooperatives, their organizational rules differed sharply from those of for-profit corporations. They ...


Too-Big-To-Fail Shareholders, Yesha Yadav Jan 2018

Too-Big-To-Fail Shareholders, Yesha Yadav

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

To build resilience within the financial system, post-Crisis regulation relies heavily on banks to fund themselves more fully by issuing equity. This reserve of value should buttress failing banks by providing a mechanism to pay off creditors and depositors and preserve the health of financial markets. In the process, shareholders are wiped out. Scholars and policymakers, however, have neglected to examine which equity investors, in fact, are purchasing bank equity and taking on the default risk of U.S. banks. This Article addresses this question. First, it shows that five asset managers - BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors, Fidelity and ...


Corporate Darwinism: Disciplining Managers In A World With Weak Shareholder Litigation, Randall S. Thomas, James D. Cox Jan 2016

Corporate Darwinism: Disciplining Managers In A World With Weak Shareholder Litigation, Randall S. Thomas, James D. Cox

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Because representative shareholder litigation has been constrained by numerous legal developments, the corporate governance system has developed new mechanisms as alternative means to address managerial agency costs. We posit that recent significant governance developments in the corporate world are the natural consequence of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of shareholder suits to address certain genre of managerial agency costs. We thus argue that corporate governance responses evolve to fill voids caused by the inability of shareholder suits to monitor and discipline corporate managers.

We further claim that these new governance responses are themselves becoming stronger due in part to the rising ...


The Derivative Nature Of Corporate Constitutional Rights, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2015

The Derivative Nature Of Corporate Constitutional Rights, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article engages the two hundred year history of corporate constitutional rights jurisprudence to show that the Supreme Court has long accorded rights to corporations based on the rationale that corporations represent associations of people from whom such rights are derived. The Article draws on the history of business corporations in America to argue that the Court’s characterization of corporations as associations made sense throughout most of the nineteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, however, when the Court was deciding several key cases involving corporate rights, this associational view was already becoming a poor fit for some corporations ...


Boards Of Directors As Mediating Hierarchs, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2015

Boards Of Directors As Mediating Hierarchs, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In June of 2014, the board of directors of Demoulas Supermarkets, Inc.-better known as Market Basket, a mid-sized chain of grocery stores in New England-decided to oust the man who had been CEO for the previous six years, Arthur T. Demoulas.' Most likely, the board of directors did not anticipate what happened next: Thousands of employees, customers, and fans of Market Basket boycotted the stores and staged noisy public protests asking the board to reinstate "Arthur T., The reaction by employees and customers made what had been a simmering, nasty, intrafamily feud within the closely held Market Basket chain ...


The End Of Class Actions?, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2015

The End Of Class Actions?, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Article, I give a status report on the life expectancy of class action litigation following the Supreme Court's decisions in Concepcion and American Express. These decisions permitted corporations to opt out of class action liability through the use of arbitration clauses, and many commentators, myself included, predicted that they would eventually lead us down a road where class actions against businesses would be all but eliminated. Enough time has now passed to make an assessment of whether these predictions are coming to fruition. I find that, although there is not yet solid evidence that businesses have flocked ...


Shareholder Voting In An Age Of Intermediary Capitalism, Paul H. Edelman, Randall S. Thomas, Robert B. Thompson Jan 2014

Shareholder Voting In An Age Of Intermediary Capitalism, Paul H. Edelman, Randall S. Thomas, Robert B. Thompson

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Shareholder voting is a key part of contemporary American corporate governance. As numerous contemporary battles between corporate management and shareholders illustrate, voting has never been more important. Yet, traditional theory about shareholder voting, rooted in concepts of residual ownership and a principal/agent relationship, does not reflect recent fundamental changes as to who shareholders are and their incentives to vote (or not vote). In the first section of the article, we address this deficiency directly by developing a new theory of corporate voting that offers three strong and complementary reasons for shareholder voting. In the middle section, we apply our ...


Making Money: Leverage And Private Sector Money Creation, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2013

Making Money: Leverage And Private Sector Money Creation, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, practitioners and theorists in law, finance, and economics are rethinking our theories about how the financial sector influences the real economy. In particular, they are reexamining the linkages among financial innovation, supply of credit and money, monetary policy, bubbles, financial stability, and economic growth. One of the key issues that is being reconsidered is the dynamics of how banks and other financial institutions drive credit creation and credit allocation, and how these factors, in turn affect the performance of the macroeconomy. In this article, I argue that, by providing an alternative ...


Selectica Resets The Trigger On The Poison Pill: Where Should The Delaware Courts Go Next?, Paul H. Edelman, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2012

Selectica Resets The Trigger On The Poison Pill: Where Should The Delaware Courts Go Next?, Paul H. Edelman, Randall S. Thomas

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Since their invention in 1982, shareholder rights plans have been the subject of intense controversy. Rights plans, or as they are known more pejoratively “poison pills,” enable a target board to “poison” a takeover attempt by making it prohibitively expensive for a bidder to acquire more than a certain percentage of the target company’s stock (until recently 15-20%). Not surprisingly, some commentators view rights plans as an inappropriate means of shifting power from shareholders to the board of directors.

In this Article, we critically examine Delaware law on the use of shareholder rights plans and propose a new approach ...


Dodd-Frank's Say On Pay: Will It Lead To A Greater Role For Shareholders In Corporate Governance?, Randall S. Thomas, Alan R. Palmiter, James F. Cotter Jan 2012

Dodd-Frank's Say On Pay: Will It Lead To A Greater Role For Shareholders In Corporate Governance?, Randall S. Thomas, Alan R. Palmiter, James F. Cotter

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

"Say on pay" gives shareholders an advisory vote on a company's pay practices for its top executives. Beginning in 2011, Dodd-Frank mandated such votes at public companies. The first year of "say on pay" under the new legislation may have changed the dialogue and give-and-take in the shareholder-management relationship at some companies, particularly on the question of executive pay.

We study the evolution of shareholder voting on "say on pay" - beginning in 2006 as a fledgling shareholder movement to get "say on pay" on the corporate ballot, evolving as a handful of companies and later the financial firms receiving ...


Outsourcing Modularity, And The Theory Of The Firm, Margaret M. Blair, Erin O'Hara O'Connor, Gregg Kirchhoefer Jan 2011

Outsourcing Modularity, And The Theory Of The Firm, Margaret M. Blair, Erin O'Hara O'Connor, Gregg Kirchhoefer

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Firms have increasingly moved productive activities from within to outside the firm through outsourcing arrangements. According to some estimates, the value of outsourcing contracts has been nearly 100 billion dollars per year since 2004. Firm outsourcing happens for a number of reasons, including to save labor costs, capture the benefits of regulatory arbitrage, and take advantage of economies of scale in the provision of firm needs. We review a number of outsourcing contracts for evidence that contract techniques are used to help modularize the relationship between the firm and its service provider. Consistent with what modularity theory might predict, some ...


Corporate Voting, Paul H. Edelman, Robert B. Thompson Jan 2009

Corporate Voting, Paul H. Edelman, Robert B. Thompson

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Discussion of shareholder voting frequently begins against a background of the democratic expectations and justifications present in decision-making in the public sphere. Directors are assumed to be agents of the shareholders in much the same way that public officers are representatives of citizens. Recent debates about majority voting and shareholder nomination of directors illustrate this pattern. Yet the corporate process differs in significant ways, partly because the market for shares permits a form of intensity voting and lets markets mediate the outcome in a way that would be foreign to the public setting and partly because the shareholders' role is ...


The New Role For Assurance Services In Global Commerce, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2008

The New Role For Assurance Services In Global Commerce, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Article we examine the rapid emergence and expansion of a private-sector compliance and enforcement infrastructure that we believe increasingly may be providing a substitute for public and legal regulatory infrastructure in global commerce, especially in developing countries where rule of law is weak and court systems are absent or inadequate. This infrastructure is provided by a proliferation of performance codes and standards, and a rapidly growing global army of privately trained and authorized inspectors and certifiers that we call the "third party assurance industry. " The growth in the third party assurance business has been phenomenal in the last ...


Specific Investment: Explaining Anomalies In "Corporate Law", Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout Jan 2006

Specific Investment: Explaining Anomalies In "Corporate Law", Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article has two goals: to praise Professor Robert Clark as a remarkable corporate scholar, and to explore how his work has helped to advance our understanding of corporations and corporate law. Clark wrote his classic treatise at a time when corporate scholarship was dominated by a principal-agent paradigm that viewed shareholders as the principals or sole residual claimants in public corporations and treated directors as shareholders' agents. This view naturally led contemporary scholars to believe that the chief economic problem of interest in corporate law was the "agency cost" problem of getting corporate directors to do what shareholders wanted ...


Corporate Voting And The Takeover Debate, Randall Thomas, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2005

Corporate Voting And The Takeover Debate, Randall Thomas, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

For many years academics have debated whether it is better to permit hostile acquirers to use tender offers to gain control over unwilling target companies, or to force them to use corporate elections of boards of directors in these efforts. The Delaware courts have expressed a strong preference for shareholder voting as a change of control device in hostile acquisitions. To force acquirers to accept their preferences, the Delaware courts have developed a jurisprudence permitting the effective classified board (ECB), a poison pill combined with a classified board, to protect target company management from removal by a hostile tender offer ...


The Public And Private Faces Of Derivative Lawsuits, Randall S. Thomas, Robert B. Thompson Jan 2004

The Public And Private Faces Of Derivative Lawsuits, Randall S. Thomas, Robert B. Thompson

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Derivative suits, long the principal vehicle for discussions about representative litigation in corporate and securities law, now share the stage with younger cousins - securities fraud class actions and state law fiduciary duty class actions. At the same time alternative governance vehicles - independent directors, auditors and other reforms that have followed in the wake of Enron - potentially diminish the relative place of litigation such as derivative suits. This article presents data from all derivative suits filed in Delaware over a two-year period. We find a relatively small number, certainly as compared to fiduciary class action and securities fraud class actions. Unlike ...


Reforming Corporate Governance: What History Can Teach Us, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2004

Reforming Corporate Governance: What History Can Teach Us, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Article, I turn to the history of corporate law for insight into the role that the corporate form plays in the organization of business enterprises. I then draw implications from this history for thinking about circumstances and situations in which corporate directors should have unimpeded control over business decisions, versus situations in which shareholders should have more input and control over business decisions. In Part I, I review historical evidence of the rapid growth in demand for the corporate form to organize businesses in the United States during the early nineteenth century. I compare the law that governed ...


Locking In Capital: What Corporate Law Achieved For Business Organizers In The Nineteenth Century, Margaret M. Blair Jan 2003

Locking In Capital: What Corporate Law Achieved For Business Organizers In The Nineteenth Century, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article argues that corporate status became popular in the nineteenth century as a way to organize production because of the unique manner in which incorporation permitted organizers to lock in financial capital. Unlike participants in a partnership, shareholders in an incorporated enterprise could not extract capital from the firm without explicit approval of a board of directors charged with representing the interests of the incorporated entity, even when that interest might sometimes conflict with the interests of individual shareholders. While this ability to lock in capital has occasionally led to abuses, the ability to commit capital generally helped promote ...


The Determinants Of Shareholder Voting On Stock Option Plans, Randall S. Thomas, Kenneth J. Martin Jan 2000

The Determinants Of Shareholder Voting On Stock Option Plans, Randall S. Thomas, Kenneth J. Martin

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Over the past decade, executive compensation has become a controversial topic. Increasingly, corporate boards of directors are confronted by angry shareholder groups over the size and composition of executive pay packages. One of the most important focal points for these tensions arises when shareholders are asked by the board to approve the creation of new stock option plans, or the amendment of existing plans. This article seeks to identify the factors that lead shareholders to support or oppose stock option plans. We examine the justifications for the widespread use of stock options and identify several benefits from stock option plans ...


Team Production In Business Organizations: An Introduction, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout Jan 1999

Team Production In Business Organizations: An Introduction, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

For the past two decades, legal and economic scholarship has tended to assume that the central economic problem addressed by corporation law is getting managers and directors to act as faithful agents for shareholders. There are other important economic problems faced by business firms, however. This article introduces a Symposium that explores one of those alternate economic problems: the problem of "team production". Team production problems can arise whenever three conditions are met: (1) economic production requires the combined inputs of two or more individuals; (2) at least some of these inputs are "team-specific," meaning they have a significantly higher ...


A Team Production Theory Of Corporate Law, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout Jan 1999

A Team Production Theory Of Corporate Law, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Contemporary corporate scholarship generally assumes that the central economic problem addressed by corporation law is getting managers and directors to act as loyal agents for shareholders. We take issue with this approach and argue that the unique legal rules governing publicly-held corporations are instead designed primarily to address a different problem - the "team production" problem - that arises when a number of individuals must invest firm-specific resources to produce a nonseparable output. In such situations team members may find it difficult or impossible to draft explicit contracts distributing the output of their joint efforts, and, as an alternative, might prefer to ...


A Contractarian Defense Of Corporate Philanthropy, Margaret M. Blair Jan 1998

A Contractarian Defense Of Corporate Philanthropy, Margaret M. Blair

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Statutory and case law make it clear that corporate officers and directors have very wide discretion to direct reasonable amounts of corporate resources toward artistic, educational, and humanitarian causes, even if those causes have only a remote connection (or no obvious connection at all) to the business goals and profitability of the firm. This stance of the law has been defended primarily by reference to an "entity" theory of the firm. By contrast, contractarian legal scholars, who view the corporation in terms of a principal-agent model, with shareholders as principles, and officers and directors as their agents, have argued that ...