Issue 6.1 – Winter 2016


Disentangling Mutual Fund Governance from Corporate Governance
Eric D. Roiter

This Article addresses mutual fund governance, explaining how it has recently become entangled with the norms and rules of corporate governance. At one level, it is understandable that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and courts have viewed mutual funds as a type of ordinary corporation. Both mutual funds and corporations are separate legal entities, having directors and shareholders. Directors of each are held to fiduciary duties, charged with serving shareholders’ interests, and expected to aspire to best practices. However, there are fundamental differences between mutual funds and ordinary corporations. This Article contends that these differences have important implications for governance, differences that should lead to the disentanglement of mutual fund governance from corporate governance.

Where Have All the IPOs Gone? The Hard Life of the Small IPO
Paul Rose and Steven Davidoff Solomon

We examine firm lifecycles of 3,081 IPOs from 1996–2012. We find that small IPOs have a different lifecycle than other, larger companies. Within five years of an IPO, only 55% of small capitalization companies remain listed on a public exchange, compared to 61% and 67% for middle and large capitalization companies, respectively. Small capitalization companies generally delist either voluntarily or involuntarily, while mid and large capitalization companies largely exit the public market through takeover transactions. Those small companies that remain listed largely fail to grow, remaining in the small capitalization category. We use our findings to examine various theories explaining the decline of the small IPO. We find only minor evidence that regulatory changes caused the decline of the small IPO. The decline appears instead to be more attributable to the historical unsuitability of small firms for the public market. Absent economic or market reforms that change small firm quality, further regulatory reforms to enhance the small IPO market are thus unlikely to be effective or bring firms into the public market that have the horsepower to remain publicly listed.

The Conflict Minerals Experiment
Jeff Schwarz

In Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Congress instructed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to draft rules that would require public companies to report annually on whether their products contain certain Congolese minerals. This unprecedented legislation and the SEC rulemaking that followed have inspired an impassioned and ongoing debate between those who view these efforts as a costly misstep and those who view them as a measured response to human rights abuses committed by the armed groups that control many mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This Article for the first time brings empirical evidence to bear on this controversy.

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Memorandum to the Compliance Counsel, United States Department of Justice
April 02, 2016
Jonathan J. Rusch: Since 1977, with the enactment of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the United States Department of Justice has played a leading role in applying the Act’s anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions in enforcement proceedings against numerous companies and individuals worldwide. In November 2015, the Department of Justice took the unprecedented step of hiring a Compliance Counsel to guide its prosecutors in decision-making in corporate prosecutions and in benchmarking corporate compliance. This Memorandum is composed as an open letter to the Compliance Counsel, focusing on how she and the Department of Justice should go about that critical benchmarking function.

Can Voluntary Price Disclosures Fix the Payday Lending Market?
March 28, 2016
Jim Hawkins: Eric J. Chang’s provocative article, A Solution for Restoring Price-Competition to Short-Term Credit Loans—which, as its title suggests, proposes to facilitate price competition in the payday lending market by creating a federal online exchange for payday lenders to post lending rates—has sparked thoughtful reactions among consumer borrowing experts. This Response provides constructive criticism to Chang’s proposal, arguing that such an exchange is unlikely to meet its goal of restoring price competition and offering tweaks that would raise the likelihood of doing so.

King Henry II and the Global Financial Crisis
March 01, 2016
James W. Giddens: A significant portion of the failure that fueled the 2008 financial crisis has been attributed to a systemic lapse in senior executive oversight at the major financial institutions. Notwithstanding this failure, these executives have not been held personal liable for their “King Henry moments,” instances where senior executives have allegedly been aware of, or turned a blind eye to, questionable acts that occurred on their watch—often for the executives’ own personal benefit. This Article outlines the current state of the law governing senior executive liability, summarizes recent headline events in the financial industry, and provides a series of recommendations for proportionate reforms to correct current incentive imbalances in the financial industry.

The Role of Section 20(b) in Securities Litigation
December 09, 2015
William D. Roth: In response to a 2011 Supreme Court ruling that restricted the use of Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act as a cause of action for fraud, SEC Chair Mary Jo White expressed in 2014 her agency's intent to use Section 20(b) to litigate cases where Section 10(b) would no longer be viable. This Article assesses whether Section 20(b) can be an effective litigation tool for the SEC and private plaintiffs by dissecting the provision's function and purpose, and by delving into its relevant legal doctrinal questions.

The Swaps Pushout Rule: Much Ado About the Wrong Thing?
December 07, 2015
John Crawford and Tim Karpoff: A notably bitter battle over financial reform in the wake of the crisis of 2008 has centered on the Swap Pushout Rule: a Dodd-Frank mandate that federally insured depository institutions—i.e., banks—refrain from entering into certain derivatives contracts. After several of the largest U.S. financial institutions successfully lobbied to roll back the Rule, the rollback inspired intense criticism, but the critiques have not accurately reflected what is really at stake for the banks or the public. While the Rule was sold as an anti-bailout measure, this Article argues that the Rule would have been ineffective as a means of preventing further bailouts of systematically important bank holding companies. The Article further argues that the primary reason systematically important bank holding companies care about the Rule is that it costs more to fund these swaps if they are booked at a different legal entity, such as a broker-dealer, rather than at a bank.

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