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Good Activist/Bad Activist: The Rise Of International Stewardship Codes, Jennifer G. Hill 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Good Activist/Bad Activist: The Rise Of International Stewardship Codes, Jennifer G. Hill

Seattle University Law Review

Shareholder participation in corporate governance and investor activism are topics du jour in the United States and around the world. In the early part of the 20th century, Professors Berle and Means considered that shareholder participation was impossible in the transformed commercial world that they described in The Modern Corporation and Private Property. This was a world characterized by dispersed and vulnerable shareholders, in which owners do not manage, and managers do not own, the corporation. In such an environment, the goal of corporate law became one of protecting shareholder interests rather than providing shareholders with participation rights. The structure ...


Specificity And Time Horizons, Frank Partnoy 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Specificity And Time Horizons, Frank Partnoy

Seattle University Law Review

This Essay argues that the short-termism debate would benefit from greater clarity and specificity regarding time horizons. I make four points. First, optimal time horizons vary in discernible ways. Second, the potential mismatch between actual and optimal time horizons should generate a range of responses. Third, investors and managers can discern and disclose estimates of actual and optimal time horizons (e.g., using categories such as preconscious, fast conscious, slow conscious, and discounting). Fourth, market participants, policy makers, and scholars should use such estimates to be more precise about time horizons. For example, critics of hedge fund activism could recognize ...


Are Investor Time Horizons Shortening?, Rachelle Sampson, Yuan Shi 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Are Investor Time Horizons Shortening?, Rachelle Sampson, Yuan Shi

Seattle University Law Review

The rise in quarterly capitalism in corporate America—increased pressure to meet quarterly earnings predictions and cater to shareholder preferences for short-term returns—has gained significant coverage in the business world and popular press in recent years. Increasingly, popular opinion suggests that firms bow to shareholder pressures, taking steps to smooth earnings and boost share prices in the short-term; firms do so by cutting Research and Development (R&D) investment, engaging in extensive cost-cutting, or increasing dividends and share buybacks. Recent estimates at the industry level show that investor discount rates have increased in recent years, supporting the notion that ...


Corporate Governance As Privately-Ordered Public Policy: A Proposal, Lynn Stout, Sergio Gramitto 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Corporate Governance As Privately-Ordered Public Policy: A Proposal, Lynn Stout, Sergio Gramitto

Seattle University Law Review

In this Article, we show how our society can use corporate governance shifts to address, if not entirely resolve, a number of currently pressing social and economic problems. These problems include: rising income inequality; demographic disparities in wealth and equity ownership; increasing poverty and income insecurity; a need for greater innovation and investment in solving problems like disease and climate change; the “externalization” of many costs of corporate activity onto third parties such as customers, employees, creditors, and the broader society; the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics; and discontent and loss of trust in the capitalist system among ...


Wrong-Termism, Right-Termism, And The Liability Structure Of Investor Time Horizons, Andrew Verstein 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Wrong-Termism, Right-Termism, And The Liability Structure Of Investor Time Horizons, Andrew Verstein

Seattle University Law Review

Do investor time horizons lead to inefficient business conduct in the real economy? An extensive finance literature analyzes whether particular practices (e.g., high frequency trading and stock buybacks) lead firms to operate with inefficiently myopic investment horizons, and an extensive legal literature considers the appropriateness of policy interventions. This Article joins those debates by charting the space of possibilities: what might be the causes of problematic time horizons? What solutions are available? One implication of this analysis is that there may be unexplored market-based solutions located on the liability side of investors’ balance sheets. This Article also argues that ...


Flash Traders (Milliseconds) To Indexed Institutions (Centuries): The Challenges Of An Agency Theory Approach To Governance In The Era Of Diverse Investor Time Horizons, Harold Weston, Conrad Ciccotello 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Flash Traders (Milliseconds) To Indexed Institutions (Centuries): The Challenges Of An Agency Theory Approach To Governance In The Era Of Diverse Investor Time Horizons, Harold Weston, Conrad Ciccotello

Seattle University Law Review

One aspect of the problem in trying to align a corporate investment horizon (the time period for return on investment) to that of its shareholders is the enormous range of investor time horizons, which can range from milliseconds to centuries. A second aspect of the problem is whether ownership of shares equates to ownership of the corporation. A third aspect of the problem is that, despite the theories and advocacy of shareholders being owners, based on the agency model of corporate finance first developed in the 1970s, the theory is contrary to corporate law. These three aspects will be developed ...


20/20 Vision In The Long & Short-Termism Debate, Anne Tucker 2018 Seattle University School of Law

20/20 Vision In The Long & Short-Termism Debate, Anne Tucker

Seattle University Law Review

What is an optimal investment time horizon—for institutions, individual shareholders and corporations? This question can evoke emotional, ideological, and theoretical responses. The answers usually deeply entrenched debates over the fundamental roles of markets versus regulation and between the appropriate loci of corporate power: the board of directors versus the shareholders. Too long-term and it is myopia; too near-term and is it short-termism. Neither label is inconsequential, so the debates are not tepid, academic, or marginal.


Brain Perspectives On Investor Behavior And Decision-Making Errors, Owen D. Jones 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Brain Perspectives On Investor Behavior And Decision-Making Errors, Owen D. Jones

Seattle University Law Review

I want to start off with what I consider to be the statement of the problem. As I understand it, you’re concerned that the time horizons for maximizing the value of an investment vary among individuals in surprisingly wide, imperfectly predictable, and often seemingly irrational ways. And, if I understand your target here, the idea is that a deeper understanding of the causes of this variation might aid in the planning and design of legal and corporate policies. To jump into this, I’m going to give a little bit of an introduction about behavioral biases, and something that ...


Federalism Of Personal Finance: State & Federal Retirement Plans, William A. Birdthistle 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Federalism Of Personal Finance: State & Federal Retirement Plans, William A. Birdthistle

Seattle University Law Review

In this Article, I consider possible approaches that attempt to improve the plans through which millions of Americans tend to their life savings. I begin by considering the inadequacies of our current system of defined contribution accounts and then address two possible alternatives: the first being a federal account universally available to Americans based largely on the model of the Thrift Savings Plan; the second being a system of statebased retirement accounts like those that have already been developed in a handful of states. Though I conclude that a single, federal plan would be superior, either alternative approach would be ...


Institutional Investors, Corporate Governance, And Firm Value, K.J. Martijn Cremers, Simone M. Sepe 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Institutional Investors, Corporate Governance, And Firm Value, K.J. Martijn Cremers, Simone M. Sepe

Seattle University Law Review

In the corporate governance debate, the short-term versus longterm contention has grown into perhaps today’s most controversial topic. In this debate, descriptions of institutional investors tend to present a dichotomic nature. These investors are alternatively portrayed as homogenously short-termist or as consistent “forces for good,” focused on targeting underperforming companies. This Article moves beyond this dichotomy. It shows empirically that aggregate institutional investor behavior presents nuances that depend on a variety of factors, including individual firm characteristics, institutional ownership levels, and institutional propensity toward activism.


Long-Term Executive Compensation As A Remedy For Corporate Short-Termism, Caroline Flammer 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Long-Term Executive Compensation As A Remedy For Corporate Short-Termism, Caroline Flammer

Seattle University Law Review

It is often argued that corporations are too focused on the short term (i.e., they are “short-termist”). For example, during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, candidate Hillary Clinton urged companies to escape the tyranny of short-termism. Similarly, in the recent policy debate in the United Kingdom on the need to reform corporate governance and executive compensation, Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane stated that “[e]xecutive pay is a matter of profound and legitimate public interest. Pay practices can encourage short-term behaviour in ways which harm both firms and the economy.” In this context, a recent ...


The Myth Of The Ideal Investor, Elisabeth de Fontenay 2018 Seattle University School of Law

The Myth Of The Ideal Investor, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Seattle University Law Review

Critiques of specific investor behavior often assume an ideal investor against which all others should be compared. This ideal investor figures prominently in the heated debates over the impact of investor time horizons on firm value. In much of the commentary, the ideal is a longterm investor that actively monitors management, but the specifics are typically left vague. That is no coincidence. The various characteristics that we might wish for in such an investor cannot peacefully coexist in practice. If the ideal investor remains illusory, which of the real-world investor types should we champion instead? The answer, I argue, is ...


The Long And Short Of It: Are We Asking The Right Questions? Modern Portfolio Theory And Time Horizons, Jim Hawley, Jon Lukomnik 2018 Seattle University School of Law

The Long And Short Of It: Are We Asking The Right Questions? Modern Portfolio Theory And Time Horizons, Jim Hawley, Jon Lukomnik

Seattle University Law Review

The heavy shadow of modern portfolio theory (MPT) has had a massive impact on everything from market structure, investment philosophy, and investor behavior, to the research that examines those disciplines. Researchers believe that they are casting light onto investment issues (including, for this purpose, specifically investor time horizons), but generalized acceptance of MPT allows it to continue to darken what should be enlightened.


An Identity Theory Of The Short- And Long-Term Investor Debate, Claire A. Hill 2018 Seattle University School of Law

An Identity Theory Of The Short- And Long-Term Investor Debate, Claire A. Hill

Seattle University Law Review

Economics famously treats market actors as homogeneous. People are homo economicus, rational self-interested maximizers of their own utility. So far, so good, notwithstanding supposed behavioral “deviations” from rationality (more on those later). That people can view their own utility very differently from one another is recognized in theory, but not so much in practice. Also not sufficiently recognized is the extent to which people’s views of their own utility reflect their theories of who they are and how the world works, and that they hold such views and theories not just atomistically, but also collectively—that is, socially.


Good Activist/Bad Activist: The Rise Of International Stewardship Codes, Jennifer G. Hill 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Good Activist/Bad Activist: The Rise Of International Stewardship Codes, Jennifer G. Hill

Seattle University Law Review

Shareholder participation in corporate governance and investor activism are topics du jour in the United States and around the world. In the early part of the 20th century, Professors Berle and Means considered that shareholder participation was impossible in the transformed commercial world that they described in The Modern Corporation and Private Property. This was a world characterized by dispersed and vulnerable shareholders, in which owners do not manage, and managers do not own, the corporation. In such an environment, the goal of corporate law became one of protecting shareholder interests rather than providing shareholders with participation rights. The structure ...


Specificity And Time Horizons, Frank Partnoy 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Specificity And Time Horizons, Frank Partnoy

Seattle University Law Review

This Essay argues that the short-termism debate would benefit from greater clarity and specificity regarding time horizons. I make four points. First, optimal time horizons vary in discernible ways. Second, the potential mismatch between actual and optimal time horizons should generate a range of responses. Third, investors and managers can discern and disclose estimates of actual and optimal time horizons (e.g., using categories such as preconscious, fast conscious, slow conscious, and discounting). Fourth, market participants, policy makers, and scholars should use such estimates to be more precise about time horizons. For example, critics of hedge fund activism could recognize ...


Are Investor Time Horizons Shortening?, Rachelle Sampson, Yuan Shi 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Are Investor Time Horizons Shortening?, Rachelle Sampson, Yuan Shi

Seattle University Law Review

The rise in quarterly capitalism in corporate America—increased pressure to meet quarterly earnings predictions and cater to shareholder preferences for short-term returns—has gained significant coverage in the business world and popular press in recent years. Increasingly, popular opinion suggests that firms bow to shareholder pressures, taking steps to smooth earnings and boost share prices in the short-term; firms do so by cutting Research and Development (R&D) investment, engaging in extensive cost-cutting, or increasing dividends and share buybacks. Recent estimates at the industry level show that investor discount rates have increased in recent years, supporting the notion that ...


Corporate Governance As Privately-Ordered Public Policy: A Proposal, Lynn Stout, Sergio Gramitto 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Corporate Governance As Privately-Ordered Public Policy: A Proposal, Lynn Stout, Sergio Gramitto

Seattle University Law Review

In this Article, we show how our society can use corporate governance shifts to address, if not entirely resolve, a number of currently pressing social and economic problems. These problems include: rising income inequality; demographic disparities in wealth and equity ownership; increasing poverty and income insecurity; a need for greater innovation and investment in solving problems like disease and climate change; the “externalization” of many costs of corporate activity onto third parties such as customers, employees, creditors, and the broader society; the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics; and discontent and loss of trust in the capitalist system among ...


Wrong-Termism, Right-Termism, And The Liability Structure Of Investor Time Horizons, Andrew Verstein 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Wrong-Termism, Right-Termism, And The Liability Structure Of Investor Time Horizons, Andrew Verstein

Seattle University Law Review

Do investor time horizons lead to inefficient business conduct in the real economy? An extensive finance literature analyzes whether particular practices (e.g., high frequency trading and stock buybacks) lead firms to operate with inefficiently myopic investment horizons, and an extensive legal literature considers the appropriateness of policy interventions. This Article joins those debates by charting the space of possibilities: what might be the causes of problematic time horizons? What solutions are available? One implication of this analysis is that there may be unexplored market-based solutions located on the liability side of investors’ balance sheets. This Article also argues that ...


Flash Traders (Milliseconds) To Indexed Institutions (Centuries): The Challenges Of An Agency Theory Approach To Governance In The Era Of Diverse Investor Time Horizons, Harold Weston, Conrad Ciccotello 2018 Seattle University School of Law

Flash Traders (Milliseconds) To Indexed Institutions (Centuries): The Challenges Of An Agency Theory Approach To Governance In The Era Of Diverse Investor Time Horizons, Harold Weston, Conrad Ciccotello

Seattle University Law Review

One aspect of the problem in trying to align a corporate investment horizon (the time period for return on investment) to that of its shareholders is the enormous range of investor time horizons, which can range from milliseconds to centuries. A second aspect of the problem is whether ownership of shares equates to ownership of the corporation. A third aspect of the problem is that, despite the theories and advocacy of shareholders being owners, based on the agency model of corporate finance first developed in the 1970s, the theory is contrary to corporate law. These three aspects will be developed ...


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