The Analysis of Benefits in Consumer Protection Regulations
Howell E. Jackson & Paul Rothstein
Over the past decade, cost-benefit analysis in the field of financial regulation (“financial CBA”) has emerged as a topic of intense public interest. In reviewing rulemakings under the Administrative Procedure Act, courts have demanded greater rigor in the financial CBA that regulators provide in support of new regulations. Industry experts and other analysts have repeatedly questioned the adequacy of agency assessments of costs and benefits. And legal academics have engaged in a robust dialogue over the merits of financial CBA and the value of alternative institutional structures for overseeing financial CBA.
This Article adds to the expanding literature on financial CBA by offering a detailed study of how regulatory agencies actually undertake benefit analysis in promulgating new regulations involving matters of consumer finance and other analogous areas of consumer protection. After a brief literature review, the Article proposes a taxonomy for categorizing benefit analysis in the area of consumer financial regulation. This taxonomy reflects traditional market failures, cognitive limitations of consumers, as well as several other beneficial outcomes commonly associated with regulations designed to protect consumers. Taking the taxonomy as a framework, the Article then reports on a detailed survey of seventy-two consumer protection regulations adopted in recent years, and presents an overview of the range and quality of benefit analysis that government officials actually undertook in the surveyed regulations. The Article next provides a more detailed discussion of twenty “exemplars” of benefit analysis drawn from regulations in the sample and focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of what might be considered state-of-the-art benefit analysis in consumer protection regulation in the years immediately following the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Article concludes with a discussion of potential lines of academic research and institutional reform that might assist financial regulators in conducting more complete benefit analysis for consumer protection regulation in the future.
De-Democratization of Firms: A Case Study of Publicly-Listed Private Equity Firms
Sung Eun (Summer) Kim
This paper develops a definitional and conceptual framework to assess the extent to which firms are democratically organized and applies the framework to thirty-nine publicly-listed private equity firms (“PPE”). The proposed definitional framework merges the criteria used by influential observers of political democracies together with the metaphor of “corporate democracy” that has been used by state legislators, federal regulators, the judiciary, and legal scholarship that have shaped U.S. corporate governance. Under the proposed definitional framework, democratic corporate governance refers to a regime that invites broad participation by shareholders, treats shareholders equally, protects shareholders from misconduct, and facilitates mutually binding consultation. By the same token, de-democratization of firms refers to a trend towards a regime that is less inclusive, less equal, less protective, and unilateral. This case study focuses on mechanisms that are chosen by PPEs to facilitate shareholders’ participation in governance and to hold managers accountable to shareholders. PPEs are an appropriate subject for this case study because they are firms that have adjusted their once highly private and sophisticated governance structures to accommodate public investors. The organizational and contractual features that are chosen by these firms reveal the balance between shareholder and managerial power within these newly public institutions. This review finds evidence of de-democratization across all four dimensions (inclusion, equality, protection, and mutuality) of the proposed definition of corporate democracy. This account of the de-democratization within one segment of firms yields new insights about the relationship between firms and government. This Article takes the first step toward categorizing these various relationships between democratic principles in the corporate and political contexts and suggests tailored policy responses to the trend of de-democratization among firms.
A Knowledge Theory of Tacit Agreement
A persistent puzzle in antitrust law is whether and when an unlawful agreement could arise from conduct or verbalized communications that fall short of an explicit agreement. While courts have found such tacit agreements to exist in idiosyncratic scenarios, they have failed to articulate a clear and consistent logic for such findings. This Article attempts to fill this gap by proposing a unified theory of tacit agreement. It defines a tacit agreement as an agreement formed by non-explicit communications that enable the alleged coconspirators to have constructive knowledge of one another’s conspiratory intent. This approach to tacit agreement is more faithful to the conceptual integrity and the statutory meaning of the agreement requirement under the Sherman Act. More importantly, it provides a flexible yet consistent formula for determining tacit agreements. This formula could be applied to any factual scenarios, including conscious parallelism, parallel conduct preceded by suggestive communications, hub-and-spoke conspiracy, and facilitating practices.
Woke Capital: The Role of Capitalism in Social Movements
Jennifer S. Fan