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The Slogans And Goals Of Antitrust Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2023

The Slogans And Goals Of Antitrust Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This is a comparative examination of the slogans and goals most advocated for antitrust law today – namely, that antitrust should be concerned with “bigness,” that it should intervene when actions undermine the “competitive process,” or that it should be concerned about promoting some conception of welfare. “Bigness” as an antitrust concern targets firms based on absolute size rather than share of a market, as antitrust traditionally has done. The bigness approach entails that antitrust cannot be concerned about low prices, or the welfare of consumers and labor. Nondominant firms could not sustain very high prices or cause significant reductions …


Worker Welfare And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2023

Worker Welfare And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The important field of antitrust and labor has gone through a profound change in orientation. For the great bulk of its history labor has been viewed as a competitive threat, and the debate over antitrust and labor was framed around whether there should be a labor “immunity” from the antitrust laws. In just the last decade, however, the orientation has flipped. Most new writing views labor as a target of anticompetitive restraints imposed by employers. Antitrust is increasingly concerned with protecting labor rather than challenging its conduct.

Antitrust interest in labor markets is properly focused on two things. The smaller …


Gamestop And The Reemergence Of The Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch Oct 2022

Gamestop And The Reemergence Of The Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch

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The GameStop trading frenzy in January 2021 was perhaps the highest profile example of the reemergence of capital market participation by retail investors, a marked shift from the growing domination of those markets by large institutional investors. Some commentators have greeted retail investing, which has been fueled by app-based brokerage accounts and social media, with alarm and called for regulatory reform. The goals of such reforms are twofold. First, critics argue that retail investors need greater protection from the risks of investing in the stock market. Second, they argue that the stock market, in term, needs protection from retail investors. …


Purpose Proposals, Jill E. Fisch Sep 2022

Purpose Proposals, Jill E. Fisch

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Repurposing the corporation is the hot issue in corporate governance. Commentators, investors and increasingly issuers, maintain that corporations should shift their focus from maximizing profits for shareholders to generating value for a more expansive group of stakeholders. Corporations are also being called upon to address societal concerns – from climate change and voting rights to racial justice and wealth inequality.

The shareholder proposal rule, Rule 14a–8, offers one potential tool for repurposing the corporation. This Article describes the introduction of innovative proposals seeking to formalize corporate commitments to stakeholder governance. These “purpose proposals” reflect a new dynamic in the debate …


Selling Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Aug 2022

Selling Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust enforcers and its other defenders have never done a good job of selling their field to the public. That is not entirely their fault. Antitrust is inherently technical, and a less engaging discipline to most people than, say, civil rights or criminal law. The more serious problem is that when the general press does talk about antitrust policy it naturally gravitates toward the fringes, both the far right and the far left. Extreme rhetoric makes for better press than the day-to-day operations of a technical enterprise. The extremes are often stated in overdramatized black-and-white terms that avoid the real …


President Biden's Executive Order On Competition: An Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2022

President Biden's Executive Order On Competition: An Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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In July, 2021, President Biden signed a far ranging Executive Order directed to promoting competition in the American economy. This paper analyzes issues covered by the Order that are most likely to affect the scope and enforcement of antitrust law. The only passage that the Executive Order quoted from a Supreme Court antitrust decision captures its antitrust ideology well – that the Sherman Act:

rests on the premise that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces will yield the best allocation of our economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality and the greatest material progress, while at the same time …


Municipal Fiber In The United States: A Financial Assessment, Christopher S. Yoo, Jesse Lambert, Timothy P. Pfenninger Jun 2022

Municipal Fiber In The United States: A Financial Assessment, Christopher S. Yoo, Jesse Lambert, Timothy P. Pfenninger

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Despite growing interest in broadband provided by municipally owned and operated fiber-to-the-home networks, the academic literature has yet to undertake a systematic assessment of these projects’ financial performance. To fill this gap, we utilize municipalities’ official reports to offer an empirical evaluation of the financial performance of every municipal fiber project in the U.S. operating in 2010 through 2019. An analysis of the actual performance of the resulting fifteen-project panel dataset reveals that none of the projects generated sufficient nominal cash flow in the short run to maintain solvency without infusions of additional cash from outside sources or debt relief. …


Antitrust Liability For False Advertising: A Response To Carrier & Tushnet, Susannah Gagnon, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jun 2022

Antitrust Liability For False Advertising: A Response To Carrier & Tushnet, Susannah Gagnon, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This reply briefly considers when false advertising can give rise to antitrust liability. The biggest difference between tort and antitrust liability is that the latter requires harm to the market, which is critically dependent on actual consumer response. As a result, the biggest hurdle a private plaintiff faces in turning an act of false advertising into an antitrust offense is proof of causation – to what extent can a decline in purchase volume or other market rejection be specifically attributed to the defendant’s false claims? That requirement dooms the great majority of false advertising claims attacked as violations of the …


A Lesson From Startups: Contracting Out Of Shareholder Appraisal, Jill E. Fisch Jun 2022

A Lesson From Startups: Contracting Out Of Shareholder Appraisal, Jill E. Fisch

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Appraisal is a controversial topic. Policymakers have debated the goals served by the appraisal remedy, and legislatures have repeatedly revised appraisal statutes in an effort to meet those goals while minimizing the cost and potential abuse associated with appraisal litigation. Courts have struggled to determine the most appropriate valuation methodology and the extent to which that methodology should depend on case-specific factors. These difficulties are exacerbated by variation in the procedures by which mergers are negotiated and the potential for conflict-of-interest transactions.

Private ordering offers a market-based alternative to continued legislative or judicial efforts to refine the appraisal remedy. Through …


Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke May 2022

Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke

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The standard economic model of police stops implies that the contraband hit rate should rise when the number of stops falls, ceteris paribus. We provide empirical corroboration of such optimizing models of police behavior by examining changes in stops and frisks around two extraordinary events of 2020 - the pandemic onset and the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd. We find that hit rates from pedestrian and vehicle stops generally rose as stops and frisks fell dramatically. Using detailed data, we are able to rule out a number of alternative explanations, including changes in street population, crime, police …


Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2022

Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This paper considers the role of “cluster” markets in antitrust litigation, the minimum requirements for recognizing such markets, and the relevance of network effects in identifying them.

One foundational requirement of markets in antitrust cases is that they consist of products that are very close substitutes for one another. Even though markets are nearly always porous, this principle is very robust in antitrust analysis and there are few deviations.

Nevertheless, clustering noncompeting products into a single market for purposes of antitrust analysis can be valuable, provided that its limitations are understood. Clustering contributes to market power when (1) many customers …


Leases As Forms, David A. Hoffman, Anton Strezhnev Jan 2022

Leases As Forms, David A. Hoffman, Anton Strezhnev

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We offer the first large scale descriptive study of residential leases, based on a dataset of ~170,000 residential leases filed in support of over ~200,000 Philadelphia eviction proceedings from 2005 through 2019. These leases are highly likely to contain unenforceable terms, and their pro-landlord tilt has increased sharply over time. Matching leases with individual tenant characteristics, we show that unlawful terms are surprisingly likely to be associated with more expensive leaseholds in richer, whiter parts of the city. This result is linked to landlords' growing adoption of shared forms, originally created by non-profit landlord associations, and more recently available online …


The Progressives' Antitrust Toolbox, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

The Progressives' Antitrust Toolbox, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The period 1900 to 1930 was the Golden Age of antitrust theory, if not of enforcement. During that period courts and scholars developed nearly all of the tools that we use to this day to assess anticompetitive practices under the federal antitrust laws. In subsequent years antitrust policy veered to both the left and the right, but today seems to be returning to a position quite similar to the one that these Progressive adopted. Their principal contributions were (1) partial equilibrium analysis, which became the basis for concerns about economic concentration, the distinction between short- and long-run analysis, and later …


Monopolizing Digital Commerce, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

Monopolizing Digital Commerce, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Section 2 of the Sherman Act condemns firms who “monopolize,” “attempt to monopolize,” or “combine or conspire” to monopolize—all without explanation. Section 2 is the antitrust law’s only provision that reaches entirely unilateral conduct, although it has often been used to reach collaborative conduct as well. In general, § 2 requires greater amounts of individually held market power than do the other antitrust statutes, but it is less categorical about conduct. With one exception, however, the statute reads so broadly that criticisms of the nature that it is outdated cannot be based on faithful readings of the text.

The one …


Third Party Moral Hazard And The Problem Of Insurance Externalities, Gideon Parchomovsky, Peter Siegelman Jan 2022

Third Party Moral Hazard And The Problem Of Insurance Externalities, Gideon Parchomovsky, Peter Siegelman

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Insurance can lead to loss or claim-creation not just by insureds themselves, but also by uninsured third parties. These externalities—which we term “third party moral hazard”—arise because insurance creates opportunities both to extract rents and to recover for otherwise unrecoverable losses. Using examples from health, automobile, kidnap, and liability insurance, we demonstrate that the phenomenon is widespread and important, and that the downsides of insurance are greater than previously believed. We explain the economic, social and psychological reasons for this phenomenon, and propose policy responses. Contract-based methods that are traditionally used to control first-party moral hazard can be welfare-reducing in …


A Miser’S Rule Of Reason: The Supreme Court And Antitrust Limits On Student Athlete Compensation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

A Miser’S Rule Of Reason: The Supreme Court And Antitrust Limits On Student Athlete Compensation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The unanimous Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston is its most important probe of antitrust’s rule of reason in decades. The decision implicates several issues, including the role of antitrust in labor markets, how antitrust applies to institutions that have an educational mission as well as involvement in a large commercial enterprise, and how much leeway district courts should have in creating decrees that contemplate ongoing administration.

The Court accepted what has come to be the accepted framework: the plaintiff must make out a prima facie case of competitive harm. Then the burden shifts to the defendant to produce …


Stakeholderism, Corporate Purpose, And Credible Commitment, Lisa Fairfax Jan 2022

Stakeholderism, Corporate Purpose, And Credible Commitment, Lisa Fairfax

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One of the most significant recent phenomena in corporate governance is the embrace, by some of the most influential actors in the corporate community, of the view that corporations should be focused on furthering the interests of all corporate stakeholders as well as the broader society. This stakeholder vision of corporate purpose is not new. Instead, it has emerged in cycles throughout corporate law history. However, for much of that history—including recent history—the consensus has been that stakeholderism has not achieved dominance or otherwise significantly influenced corporate behavior. That honor is reserved for the corporate purpose theory that focuses on …


Secured Transactions Law Reform In Japan: Japan Business Credit Project Assessment Of Interviews And Tentative Policy Proposals, Megumi Hara, Kumiko Koens, Charles W. Mooney Jr. Jan 2022

Secured Transactions Law Reform In Japan: Japan Business Credit Project Assessment Of Interviews And Tentative Policy Proposals, Megumi Hara, Kumiko Koens, Charles W. Mooney Jr.

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This article summarizes key findings from the Japan Business Credit Project (JBCP), which involved more than 30 semi-structured interviews conducted in Japan from 2016 through 2018. It was inspired by important and previously unexplored questions concerning secured financing of movables (business equipment and inventory) and claims (receivables)—“asset-based lending” or “ABL.” Why is the use of ABL in Japan so limited? What are the principal obstacles and disincentives to the use of ABL in Japan? The interviews were primarily with staff of banks, but also included those of government officials and regulators, academics, and law practitioners. The article proposes reforms of …


Antitrust Error Costs, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

Antitrust Error Costs, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The idea that consideration of error costs should inform judgments about actions with uncertain consequences is well established. When we act on imperfect information, we consider not only the probability of an event, but also the expected costs of making an error. In 1984 Frank Easterbrook used this idea to rationalize an anti-enforcement bias in antitrust, reasoning that markets are likely to correct monopoly in a relatively short time while judicial errors are likely to persist. As a result, false positives (recognizing a problem when there is none) are more costly than false negatives. While the problem of error cost …


Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson Dec 2021

Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson

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Corporations have received growing criticism for their role in climate change, perpetuating racial and gender inequality, and other pressing social issues. In response to these concerns, shareholders are increasingly focusing on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in selecting investments, and asset managers are responding by offering a growing number of ESG mutual funds. The flow of assets into ESG is one of the most dramatic trends in asset management.

But are these funds giving investors what they promise? This question has attracted the attention of regulators, with the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) …


Corporate Crime And Punishment: An Empirical Study, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin Dec 2021

Corporate Crime And Punishment: An Empirical Study, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin

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For many years, law and economics scholars, as well as politicians and regulators, have debated whether corporate criminal enforcement overdeters beneficial corporate activity or in the alternative, lets corporate criminals off too easily. This debate has recently expanded in its polarization: On the one hand, academics, judges, and politicians have excoriated enforcement agencies for failing to send guilty bankers to jail in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; on the other, the U.S. Department of Justice has since relaxed policies that encouraged individual prosecutions and reduced the size of fines and number of prosecutions. A crucial and yet understudied …


Antitrust And Platform Monopoly, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2021

Antitrust And Platform Monopoly, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Are large digital platforms that deal directly with consumers “winner take all,” or natural monopoly, firms? That question is surprisingly complex and does not produce the same answer for every platform. The closer one looks at digital platforms the less they seem to be winner-take-all. As a result, competition can be made to work in most of them. Further, antitrust enforcement, with its accommodation of firm variety, is generally superior to any form of statutory regulation that generalizes over large numbers.

Assuming that an antitrust violation is found, what should be the remedy? Breaking up large firms subject to extensive …


Addressing The Divisions In Antitrust Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2021

Addressing The Divisions In Antitrust Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This is the text of an interview conducted in writing by Professor A. Douglas Melamed, Stanford Law School.


Pandemic Hope For Chapter 11 Financing, David A. Skeel Jr. Nov 2021

Pandemic Hope For Chapter 11 Financing, David A. Skeel Jr.

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One of the biggest surprises of the recent pandemic from a bankruptcy perspective has been the ready availability of financing. A variety of factors—such as an estimated $2.5 trillion in available funding at the outset of the crisis and the buoyant stock market—may have contributed. In this Essay, I focus on a less widely appreciated factor, a striking shift in the capital structure of many corporate debtors. Rather than borrowing from one group of lenders, debtors now often borrow from multiple groups of diverse lenders. Although the new capital structure complexity has downsides, it also could counteract a longstanding problem …


Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch Oct 2021

Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch

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When Roberta Karmel wrote the articles that are the subject of this symposium, she was skeptical of both the potential value of shareholder voting and the emerging involvement of institutional investors in corporate governance. In the ensuing years, both the increased role and engagement of institutional investors and the heightened importance of shareholder voting offer new reasons to take Professor Karmel’s concerns seriously. Institutional investors have taken on a broader range of issues ranging from diversity and political spending to climate change and human capital management, and their ability to influence corporate policy on these issues has become more significant. …


Vertical Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Sep 2021

Vertical Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust litigation often requires courts to consider challenges to vertical “control.” How does a firm injure competition by limiting the behavior of vertically related firms? Competitive injury includes harm to consumers, labor, or other suppliers from reduced output and higher margins.

Historically antitrust considers this issue by attempting to identify a market that is vertically related to the defendant, and then consider what portion of it is “foreclosed” by the vertical practice. There are better mechanisms for identifying competitive harm, including a more individualized look at how the practice injures the best placed firms or bears directly on a firm’s …


Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo Jul 2021

Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo

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My colleague, Herbert Hovenkamp, is almost universally recognized as the most cited and the most authoritative US antitrust scholar. Among his many honors, his status as the senior author of the authoritative Areeda and Hovenkamp treatise makes him the unquestioned leader of the New Harvard School, which has long served as the bellwether for how courts are likely to resolve emerging issues in modern antitrust doctrine. Unfortunately, its defining tenets and its positions on emerging issues remain surprisingly obscure. My contribution to this festschrift explores the core commitments that distinguish the New Harvard School from other approaches to antitrust. It …


Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2021

Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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How should plaintiffs show harm from antitrust violations? The inquiry naturally breaks into two issues: first, what is the nature of the harm? and second, what does proof of causation require? The best criterion for assessing harm is likely or reasonably anticipated output effects. Antitrust’s goal should be output as high as is consistent with sustainable competition.

The standard for proof of causation then depends on two things: the identity of the enforcer and the remedy that the plaintiff is seeking. It does not necessarily depend on which antitrust statute the plaintiff is seeking to enforce. For public agencies, enforcement …


The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro Jun 2021

The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro

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President Donald Trump and members of his Administration repeatedly asserted that they had delivered substantial deregulation that fueled positive trends in the U.S. economy prior to the COVID pandemic. Drawing on an original analysis of data on federal regulation from across the Trump Administration’s four years, we show that the Trump Administration actually accomplished much less by way of deregulation than it repeatedly claimed—and much less than many commentators and scholars have believed. In addition, and also contrary to the Administration’s claims, overall economic trends in the pre-pandemic Trump years tended simply to follow economic trends that began years earlier. …


Taking Stock Of Chapter 11, David A. Skeel Jr. May 2021

Taking Stock Of Chapter 11, David A. Skeel Jr.

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In this Essay, written for a symposium honoring Sam Gerdano, I offer an assessment of current Chapter 11 theory and practice. The most distinctive feature of current Chapter 11 practice is the extent to which the parties now enter into intercreditor agreements, restructuring support agreements and other actual contracts governing their rights and responsibilities. One question raised by the dramatic shift in bankruptcy practice is whether the leading normative theory of bankruptcy, the Creditors’ Bargain Theory, is now obsolete, as some scholars have suggested. The Creditors’ Bargain Theory explains bankruptcy as a solution to coordination problems that might lead to …