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Columbia Law School

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Contracting Out Of The Fiduciary Duty Of Loyalty: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Opportunity Waivers, Gabriel Rauterberg, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

For centuries, the duty of loyalty has been the hallowed centerpiece of fiduciary obligation, widely considered one of the few “mandatory” rules of corporate law. That view, however, is no longer true. Beginning in 2000, Delaware dramatically departed from tradition by granting incorporated entities a statutory right to waive a crucial part of the duty of loyalty: the corporate opportunities doctrine. Other states have since followed Delaware’s lead, similarly permitting firms to execute “corporate opportunity waivers.” Surprisingly, more than fifteen years into this reform experiment, no study has attempted to either systematically measure the corporate response to these reforms ...


Economic Crisis And The Integration Of Law And Finance: The Impact Of Volatility Spikes, Edward G. Fox, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2016

Economic Crisis And The Integration Of Law And Finance: The Impact Of Volatility Spikes, Edward G. Fox, Merritt B. Fox, Ronald J. Gilson

Faculty Scholarship

The 2008 financial crisis raised puzzles important for understanding how the capital market prices common stocks and in turn, for the intersection between law and finance. During the crisis, there was a dramatic fivefold spike, across all industries, in "idiosyncratic risk" – the volatility of individual-firm share prices after adjustment for movements in the market as a whole.

This phenomenon is not limited to the most recent financial crisis.This Article uses an empirical review to show that a dramatic spike in idiosyncratic risk has occurred with every major downturn from the 1920s through the recent financial crisis. It canvasses three ...


Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer Jan 2016

Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The United States taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the United States could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: These taxes prompt different planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

In response, this Essay recommends using both taxes for three reasons. First ...


Bank Resolution In The European Banking Union: A Transatlantic Perspective On What It Would Take, Jeffery N. Gordon, Wolf-Georg Ringe Jan 2015

Bank Resolution In The European Banking Union: A Transatlantic Perspective On What It Would Take, Jeffery N. Gordon, Wolf-Georg Ringe

Faculty Scholarship

The project of creating a Banking Union is designed to overcome the fatal link between sovereigns and their banks in the Eurozone. As part of this project, political agreement for a common supervision framework and a common resolution scheme has been reached with difficulty. However, the resolution framework is weak, underfunded and exhibits some serious flaws. Further, Member States' disagreements appear to rule out a federalized deposit insurance scheme, commonly regarded as the necessary third pillar of a successful Banking Union. This paper argues for an organizational and capital structure substitute for these two shortcomings that can minimize the systemic ...


Protecting Reliance, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2014

Protecting Reliance, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

Reliance plays a central role in contract law and scholarship. One party relies on the other's promised performance, its statements, or its anticipated entry into a formal agreement. Saying that reliance is important, however, says nothing about what we should do about it. The focus of this Essay is on the many ways that parties choose to protect reliance. The relationship between what parties do and what contract doctrine cares about is tenuous at best. Contract performance takes place over time, and the nature of the parties 'future obligations can be deferred to take into account changing circumstances. Reliance ...


The Agency Costs Of Agency Capitalism: Activist Investors And The Revaluation Of Governance Rights, Ronald J. Gilson, Jeffery N. Gordon Jan 2013

The Agency Costs Of Agency Capitalism: Activist Investors And The Revaluation Of Governance Rights, Ronald J. Gilson, Jeffery N. Gordon

Faculty Scholarship

Equity ownership in the United States no longer reflects the dispersed share ownership of the canonical Berle-Means firm. Instead, we observe the reconcentration of ownership in the hands of institutional investment intermediaries, which gives rise to "the agency costs of agency capitalism." This ownership change has occurred because of (i) political decisions to privatize the provision of retirement savings and to require funding of such provision and (ii) capital market developments that favor investment intermediaries offering low-cost diversified investment vehicles. A new set of agency costs arises because in addition to divergence between the interests of record owners and the ...


Technological Innovation, International Competition, And The Challenges Of International Income Taxation, Michael J. Graetz, Rachael Doud Jan 2013

Technological Innovation, International Competition, And The Challenges Of International Income Taxation, Michael J. Graetz, Rachael Doud

Faculty Scholarship

Because of the importance of technological innovation to economic growth, nations strive to stimulate and attract the research and development ("R&D") that leads to that innovation and to make themselves hospitable environments for the holding of intellectual property ("IP"). Tax policies have taken center stage in their efforts to accomplish these goals and to capture a share of the income from technological innovations.

Designing cost-effective methods of supporting technological innovations has, however, become substantially more difficult as the world economy has become more interconnected. Where R&D is performed and where income is earned change in response to the ...


Stock Unloading And Banker Incentives, Robert J. Jackson Jr. Jan 2012

Stock Unloading And Banker Incentives, Robert J. Jackson Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Congress has directed federal regulators to oversee banker pay. For the first time, these regulators are now scrutinizing the incentives of risk-takers beyond the bank's top executives. Like most public company managers, these bankers are increasingly paid in stock rather than cash. The ostensible reason is that stock-based pay aligns manager and shareholder interests. But portfolio theory predicts that managers will diversify away, or "unload," stock-based pay unless they are restricted from doing so. One way to deter unloading may be to require managers to disclose it, as investors and colleagues will assume that managers are unloading because they ...


Systemic Risk After Dodd-Frank: Contingent Capital And The Need For Regulatory Strategies Beyond Oversight, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2011

Systemic Risk After Dodd-Frank: Contingent Capital And The Need For Regulatory Strategies Beyond Oversight, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Because the quickest, simplest way for a financial institution to increase its profitability is to increase its leverage, an enduring tension will exist between regulators and systemically significant financial institutions over the issues of risk and leverage. Many have suggested that the 2008 financial crisis erupted because flawed systems of executive compensation induced financial institutions to increase leverage and accept undue risk. But that begs the question why such compensation formulas were adopted. Growing evidence suggests that shareholders favored these formulas to induce managers to accept higher risk and leverage. Shareholder pressure, then, is a factor that could cause the ...


Stimulus And Civil Rights, Olatunde C.A. Johnson Jan 2011

Stimulus And Civil Rights, Olatunde C.A. Johnson

Faculty Scholarship

Federal spending has the capacity to perpetuate racial inequality, not simply through explicit exclusion, but through choices made in the legislative and institutional design of spending programs. Drawing on the lessons of New Deal and postwar social programs, this Essay offers an account of the specificfeatures offederal spending that give it salience in structuring racial arrangements. Federal spending programs, this Essay argues, are relevant in structuring racial inequality due to their massive scale, their creation of new programmatic and spending infrastructures, and the choices made in these programs as to whether to impose explicit inclusionary norms on states and localities ...


Rethinking The Laws Of Good Faith Purchase, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2011

Rethinking The Laws Of Good Faith Purchase, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay is a comparative economic analysis of the disparate doctrines governing the good faith purchase of stolen or misappropriated goods. We argue that prior treatments have misconceived the problem. An owner will take optimal precautions to prevent theft if she is faced with the loss of her goods; and a purchaser will make an optimal investigation into his seller's title if faced with the loss of the goods. An owner and a buyer cannot both be faced with the full loss, however. This presents a problem of "double moral hazard" and it cannot be solved in a first-best ...


Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles K. Whitehead Jan 2008

Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles K. Whitehead

Faculty Scholarship

The traditional law and finance focus on agency costs presumes that the premise that diversified public shareholders are the cheapest risk bearers is immutable. In this Essay, we raise the possibility that changes in the capital markets have called this premise into question, drawn into sharp relief by the recent private equity wave in which the size and range of public companies being taken private expanded signficantly. In brief, we argue that private owners, in increasingly complete markets, can transfer risk in discrete slices to counterparties who, in turn, can manage or otherwise diversify away those risks they choose to ...


Market Damages, Efficient Contracting, And The Economic Waste Fallacy, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott Jan 2008

Market Damages, Efficient Contracting, And The Economic Waste Fallacy, Alan Schwartz, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Market damages are the best default rule when parties trade in thick markets: They induce parties to contract efficiently and to trade if and only if trade is efficient, and they do not create ex ante inefficiencies. Courts commonly overlook these virtues, however, when promisors bundle services that are not separately priced. For example, a promisor may agree to pay royalties on a mining lease and later to restore the promisee's property. When the cost of completion is large relative to the "market delta " – the increase in market value – courts concerned with avoiding "economic waste" limit the buyer to ...


Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2005

Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Chapter 11 is thought to preserve the going-concern surplus of a financially distressed business – the extra value that its assets possess in their current configuration. Financial distress leads to conflicts among creditors that can lead to inefficient liquidation of a business with going-concern surplus. Chapter 11 avoids this by providing the business with a way of fashioning a new capital structure. This account of Chapter 11 fails to capture what is happening in the typical case. The typical Chapter 11 debtor is a small corporation whose assets are not specialized and rarely worth enough to pay tax claims. There is ...


Al Capone's Revenge: An Essay On The Political Economy Of Pretextual Prosecution, Daniel C. Richman, William J. Stuntz Jan 2005

Al Capone's Revenge: An Essay On The Political Economy Of Pretextual Prosecution, Daniel C. Richman, William J. Stuntz

Faculty Scholarship

Most analyses of pretextual prosecutions – cases in which prosecutors target defendants based on suspicion of one crime but prosecute them for another, lesser crime – focus on the defendant's interest in fair treatment. Far too little attention is given to the strong social interest in non-pretextual prosecutions. Charging criminals with their "true" crimes makes criminal law enforcement more transparent, and hence more politically accountable. It probably also facilitates deterrence. Meanwhile, prosecutorial strategies of the sort used to "get" Al Capone can create serious credibility problems. The Justice Department has struggled with those problems as it has used Capone-style strategies against ...


Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2005

Serial Entrepreneurs And Small Business Bankruptcies, Douglas G. Baird, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Chapter 11 is thought to preserve the going-concern surplus of a financially distressed business – the extra value that its assets possess in their current configuration. Financial distress leads to conflicts among creditors that can lead to inefficient liquidation of a business with going-concern surplus. Chapter 11 avoids this by providing the business with a way of fashioning a new capital structure. This account of Chapter 11 fails to capture what is happening in the typical case. The typical Chapter 11 debtor is a small corporation whose assets are not specialized and rarely worth enough to pay tax claims. There is ...


The Economics Of Form And Substance In Contract Interpretation, Avery W. Katz Jan 2004

The Economics Of Form And Substance In Contract Interpretation, Avery W. Katz

Faculty Scholarship

For over a century, legal commentators have debated the relative merits of formal and substantive approaches to the interpretation of contracts; in recent years, the debate has increasingly been conducted in the language of the economic approach to contract law. While this new wave of scholarship has been relatively successful in relating the traditional debates over formalism to specific transactional and institutional problems such as imperfect information, it has been less productive in terms of generating useful legal or policy recommendations. This Essay proposes a different approach: one that focuses on private rather than public legal decisionmakers as its primary ...


The Attorney As Gatekeeper: An Agenda For The Sec, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2003

The Attorney As Gatekeeper: An Agenda For The Sec, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Section 307 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act authorizes the SEC to prescribe "minimum standards of professional conduct" for attorneys "appearing or practicing" before it. Although the initial debate has focused on issues of confidentiality, this terse statutory provision frames and seemingly federalizes a much larger question: What is the role of the corporate attorney in public securities transactions? Is the attorney's role that of (a) an advocate, (b) a transaction cost engineer, or, more broadly, (c) a gatekeeper – that is, a reputational intermediary with some responsibility to monitor the accuracy of corporate disclosures? Skeptics of any gatekeeper role for attorneys ...


Racing Towards The Top?: The Impact Of Cross-Listing And Stock Market Competition On International Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2002

Racing Towards The Top?: The Impact Of Cross-Listing And Stock Market Competition On International Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Cross-listing by foreign issuers onto U.S. exchanges accelerated during the 1990s, bringing international market centers into competition for listings and draining liquidity from some regional markets. Although cross-listing has traditionally been explained as an attempt to break down market segmentation and to increase investor recognition of the cross-listing firm, the globalization of financial markets and instantaneous electronic communications render these explanations increasingly dated. A superior explanation is "bonding": Issuers migrate to U.S. exchanges because by voluntarily subjecting themselves to the United States's higher disclosure standards and greater threat of enforcement (both by public and private enforcers), they ...


Beyond The Privacy Principle, Kendall Thomas Jan 1992

Beyond The Privacy Principle, Kendall Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

In Bowers v. Hardwick, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to ad-dress the constitutionality of a Georgia criminal statute prohibiting certain private sexual practices by consenting adults. The Georgia citizens who brought the suit sought a judgment regarding the constitutionality of the statute on its face, but the Court resolutely avoided consideration of that issue. The Court took the view that the only federal question properly before it was the constitutional validity of the law as applied to private, sexual activity by consenting adults of the same gender, or what it called "homosexual sodomy." Having thus limited the scope ...


Rethinking The Regulation Of Coercive Creditor Remedies, Robert E. Scott Jan 1989

Rethinking The Regulation Of Coercive Creditor Remedies, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The phenomenal growth of personal installment credit over the past forty years has generated inevitable pressures for regulatory reform of consumer credit markets. Much of the impetus for consumer protection has stemmed from the perceived abuses that mark the process of coercive collection upon default. Some of these abuses have been identified, quite properly, as the sort of deceptive or fraudulent practices often associated with industries experiencing rapid growth. But other creditor remedies, though troublesome to many observers, cannot be as easily characterized. For example, many critics have challenged the common practice of self-help repossession and resale of consumer goods ...


Understanding The Plaintiff's Attorney: The Implications Of Economic Theory For Private Enforcement Of Law Through Class And Derivative Actions, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 1986

Understanding The Plaintiff's Attorney: The Implications Of Economic Theory For Private Enforcement Of Law Through Class And Derivative Actions, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Probably to a unique degree, American law relies upon private litigants to enforce substantive provisions of law that in other legal systems are left largely to the discretion of public enforcement agencies. This system of enforcement through "private attorneys general" is most closely associated with the federal antitrust and securities laws and the common law's derivative action, but similar institutional arrangements have developed recently in the environmental, "mass tort," and employment discrimination fields. The key legal rules that make the private attorney general a reality in American law today, however, are not substantive but procedural – namely, those rules that ...


A Relational Theory Of Secured Financing, Robert E. Scott Jan 1986

A Relational Theory Of Secured Financing, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Despite advances in finance theory, secured debt remains a puzzle. As a consequence, the justification for the current legal regulation of secured financing is similarly unclear. What purposes, whether benign or malignant, does security serve? And what explains the peculiar system of priorities established by Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code? These are particularly urgent questions for students of commercial law because legally created priorities among creditors are an apparent aberration. In most legal regimes, equal treatment of those similarly situated is an important normative goal. Indeed, much of federal bankruptcy law seems to reflect a conception of business ...


Regulating The Market For Corporate Control: A Critical Assessment Of The Tender Offer's Role In Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 1984

Regulating The Market For Corporate Control: A Critical Assessment Of The Tender Offer's Role In Corporate Governance, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Better answers often await better questions. In the wake of a recent series of provocative articles dealing with contested tender offers, several questions have been vigorously debated:

(1) Should management of the target company be allowed to resist a hostile tender offer in order to remain an independent company? Which, if any, of the various "shark repellent" measures by which a potential target can make itself unattractive to a bidder are justified?;

(2) If defensive tactics were generally forbidden, should the target company's management still be permitted to encourage competing bids thereby creating an auction?; and

(3) Do hostile ...